Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blog: Day 1 and 2 Bahamas: June 26 - 27

Sunday morning the AC units in the salon and the port hull were on the fritz... ( I know! All of you cruiser friends are thinking, “What has happened to Tofer? AC is a major concern for him now?) Ac is a big deal on this boat as a charter vessel It has big open, wrap around windows in the salon and the sun heats it up just like a solarium by midday. The guests come to have a good time and AC makes them happy too. AHHH ok, who am I really kidding with all this? Hell, I LOVE the AC!!!

At any rate we spent all morning working on it and when the owner, Wade, arrived, he and I spent more time messing around with it. Turned out the sicko Nassau water had clogged all of the lines so we had to blow them out... with our lungs. It’s up and running now.

The owner and guests all went to visit Atlantis last night and this morning we are off to the Exumas.

10:00am Nassau Harbor: We fueled the boat up, topped off the water and made our way out of the busiest port in the Bahamas. When sailing across the banks from Nassau to the Exumas I always follow a line from the waypoint at Porgee Rocks to Allen’s and you don’t really have to worry about near surface coral heads but this time we were actually planning on going to Norman’s and on that line there are quite a few coral heads on Yellow Bank. We put Dylan up on the bow and dodged coral heads. Steve and Debbie sat up on the bow and with the wind on the nose they were constantly being drenched by sheets of water. They were grinning ear to ear and at one point Steve looked at her and smiled while he said,

“This is sure better than sitting at my desk!”

After we passed the Yellow Bank we pulled out the sails and decided we could actually sail to Allen’s so we changed our course and sailed the rest of the way.

4:00pm Allen’s Cay, Bahamas: When we arrived at Allen’s I took advantage of the fact that we were on a cat and anchored us in the little shallow bay at SW Allen’s. This bay is a perfect little slice of paradise,with a crescent shaped white sand beach and aqua colored water. The water depth when we arrived was only 6 foot in the whole bay. we arrived at High tide so, although with our draft of 3.8 feet we could have stayed all night (tide range is around 2 feet) I decided in the end to move for a better nights sleep.

Just as soon as the anchor was down at SW Allen’s (actually even before the anchor was down in Pats case) everyone was swimming around the boat in the warm clear Bahamian water. Everyone swam ashore and looked at the species of iguanas that are only native to these 3 little islands.

Once they were all done swimming and snorkeling around the bay, we moved the boat over by Leaf Cay, just across the way. We threw the kayaks in the water and Steve and Debbie went exploring while Wade and Dylan paddled over to a local Conch fisherman’s boat and bartered for some fresh conch. They bought 3 HUGE cleaned conch for a couple bucks each and brought them back to me.

I made Captain Tofer’s Cracked Conch to munch on with Margaritas as sundowners. Later on Wade BBQed up some Ribs and chicken with Asparagus and rice for supper.


RECIPE: Captain Tofer’s Cracked Conch
1. Take cleaned conch, cut off the claw and cut the rest in strips about 1/2 inch wide.

Rinse conch in fresh water and put it all in a large zip lock bag. Push all of the air out of the bag. Wrap the bag in a hand towel and beat it with a hammer until your arm hurts. Switch arms and repeat.

Crush ritz crackers into a powder and put in a small cake pan.

Crush a small bag of flavored potato chips. Mix with the crushed ritz crackers.

Crush and finely chop 2 cloves of garlic and add in a large frying pan to 1/4 inch of

Olive oil in the bottom of the pan. Heat the oil and garlic until the boat smells


Rub olive oil on the cracked hammered conch liberally and roll it in the ritz cracker


Throw it all in the frying pan and cover, stirring occasionally until the conch is tender

and cooked through.


Cracking Conch,

Captain Tofer, Dylan, Wade, Pat, Steve and Debbie

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sweetest Thing Delivery: St Thomas to Nassau, June 2011

Day 4 continued and Day 5:
Just after I sent off the email containing our blog from yesterday the excitement really started. I have to say that yesterday has to rank right up there as one of my all time favorite days at sea.

I was actually in the middle of downloading and sending off the blog when the reel on the fishing pole started smoking... “FISH ON.....” Dylan and Jared were on the back of the boat pulling on the pole trying to get a handle on a fish that really didn’t want to be there. By the time I had the email sent off and the Iridium phone shut down Bob had joined the fray and they were all taking turns trying to reel in this fish. The fish was winning. For every turn of the reel the fish took a foot of line.... zzzzzzzzziiiiip it was quickly becoming a sad situation. We wanted that fish! We had been trying to catch one all day every day so far and he was the first to take the bait. We were still flying the screecher and the Genoa wing-on-wing and needed to slow the boat so we rolled in the Genoa and I started the engine and turned us into the wind as much as the screecher would allow. This slowed the boat enough to turn the tide in the battle against the fish. The guys were running from one side of the cockpit to the other fighting this fish. Sweetest Thing has a 26 foot beam and it was kinda funny to watch these three guys chase back and forth with the pole trying to catch this fish while I tried to keep just enough wind in the screecher to keep it from flogging itself to death but spill enough wind to keep the boat speed low enough to manage the fish. By the time the fish was close enough to the boat to see it the guys had given up on the reel. It was making some strange sounds of protest and giving as much line to the fish as it wanted. Bob put on his sailing gloves and started pulling the line in hand over hand and pretty soon the pretty little 3 foot green and yellow bull Mahi Mahi was flopping around in the cockpit. Bob wants to note that, I quote,

“It wasn’t no ordinary fish... it was a powerful little three foot fish!”

For myself, It kind of reminded me of the knight with his arms and legs cut off in Monty Python... as it laid there on the deck, I could almost hear it yelling, “Come on.... I’ll bite your knees off!” Dylan finished him off and Bob and Dylan crawled on their knees in blood on the cockpit floor filleting it.

Thanks to the efforts of the crew I was able to make us an awesome supper of Teriyaki marinaded Mahi Mahi, steamed veggies and rice that, even if I do say so myself, ranked right up there with the efforts of past chefs on board Sweetest Thing. As we were sitting around eating supper I mentioned to the crew that since we had just eaten all of the frozen veggies we now had extra pie crust because I couldn’t do another pot pie. Bob mentioned the apples sitting in a bowl by the fridge and we all agreed that it would be fun to make an apple pie. We all sat around joking, listening to music and peeling apples, then we started cooking them down on the stove. When you have four guys working on one pie in a boat with limited resources things get a little creative. We didn’t have quite enough apples, but we did have a banana. I added white sugar and brown sugar until I thought... “hmmm guess that would be enough...” We had lots of cinnamon but it was in sticks and our grater was a big one made for cheese so we grated cinnamon with one little grater area often breaking off chunks of stick. Bob found a box of dried currants in the food cupboard and we all sniffed them, ate a few and agreed that they would taste yummy in the pie. I found some funny looking little stick things in a little baggy in the galley and when I smelled them they were very strong and smelled familiar. I knew I had smelled them before with apples when Beck cooked stuff on the stove at Christmas. I put a handful in before Bob weighed in and told us that those were cloves and we should only put in a few. Jarred and I spent the rest of the time that this mixture was cooking down fishing out cloves. About this time Bob decided that it needed some corn starch to thicken it but we didn’t have any, so he put a little flour and water in the mixture. Bob had an epiphany and asked me if we had any Amaretto liquor on the boat... he thought it would taste good in there...

“No,” I replied “But we do have Bailey’s!” They handed me the bottle and I poured some in the mix. Jarred drank the rest of the bottle while I filled the pie crust with our new filling. I put the top crust on the pie and we baked it for 45 minutes...

Ok. So you all need to make this pie at home! if we could do it out here you can do it at home. It was one of the best pies any of us had ever tasted! No kidding! Try it out yourself and send us comments on the Iridium.

By the time we were done watching a movie and eating pie it was dark and the wind had increased to a steady 25 knots gusting a little higher so we needed to pull in the screecher. Pulling in the screecher in the dark is a real offshore adventure. We all wear our harnesses and have to roll it in as far as we can, which is never quite far enough, then the guy on the halyard tries to drop it slow enough to keep it from blowing into the sea and fast enough that it has a limited time to inflict bodily harm to the crew on the for-deck who are trying to wrestle it onto the deck. To the uninitiated it must look like a couple of guys tag team wrestling a huge flopping white snake. The sail doesn’t cause a lot of damage but let me tell you the flailing sheet can sure put a bruise on a guy. I saw it take out Jarred just before it chased me down on the deck! Once the sail was all secured on deck and we were laying on it breathing heavy I looked over at Jarred and he smiled and said, “Well that was fun!”

Today Bob made scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast and we are sailing through the Bahamas. I can see a little island just off our starboard right now! It’s a tough life huh?

Cooking Along,

Captain Tofer, Bob, Jarred, and Dylan

Recipe: Sweetest Thing’s Signature Offshore Apple Pie


Apples - any variety quantity as required (peeled)

Banana - 1 severely bruised and lonely (you should peel this too)

Dried Currants - sprinkle as many into the pie filling as you think would taste yummy.

1/2 cup water

Sugar - just start pouring it in directly from the bag until you think it’s enough.

Brown sugar - same as above

Bailey’s - pour directly from the bottle only sampling occasionally.

Whole Cloves - one handful, cook for 5 minutes then remove from mixture. (that’s fun)

Cinnamon sticks - grate with large sized grater trying not to remove the skin from finger tips.

Cook Pie filling down until thickened stirring when ever you remember. If filling need thickened add one tablespoon of flour dissolved in 1/4 cup water.

Add pie filling to a deep dish pie pan with crust in it.

Put pie crust on the top

Bake for 45 minutes at around 375

Send us your comments on Iridium!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sweetest Thing Delivery: St Thomas to Nassau, June 2011

Day 3 and 4:
Yesterday we enjoyed a day of pure downwind sailing. We flew both the Jib and the Screecher, wing on wing all day. The clouds started to fill in by afternoon and the wind started gusting in the low 20s so in the late afternoon we rolled in the jib leaving the screecher as our only sail. Just after dark we decided to pull down the screecher and stow it for the night and just switch to the jib. (The screecher is difficult to reef effectively because it has so much belly built into the sail that when it is rolled up it doesn’t maintain an effective sail shape.) With all of the squalls around us we needed to be able to quickly, and effectively reef the sail.

I made the guys chicken pot pie for supper and we watched a movie. The night watch was uneventful until about 2:30am when Dylan spotted a mysterious light off our bow and a small return on the radar. He became concerned when the light suddenly moved very fast away and then off to the side of our boat. He woke me up when the light on the vessel went out but the radar return was still about 2 miles off our starboard beem.

Dylan and I watched the radar return of this vessel for 45 minutes or so as it maintained our course and speed about 2 miles off to our starboard. I decided to wake up Bob when the radar return started to slowly close on our vessel. At one point it was within a mile and a half of our boat. At that point I told Dylan to turn off all of our lights (there was no moon out and it was overcast so it was a VERY dark night.) As soon as our lights went out we could see that the other vessel was slowly falling behind us but still making the same basic course as before. I decided to try to report the incident to the Coast Guard using the VHF radio in hopes that the boat following us would hear and take note or if it was a Coast Guard vessel that they would answer us and get it all settled. As soon as I made the call to the US Coast Guard we noticed the return scoot off to the south of us and disappear altogether. We were just north of the DR so it could have been a small fast boat from the DR or it could have been a US Coast Guard patrol boat, either way we saw no more of them.

This morning I made some Egg McMuffins and then we pulled out the screecher again and are once again running downwind wing on wing.

We spent the morning solving riddles together... what a hoot. It was fun for all four of us to be together asking and answering questions for riddles. If you would like to send me some riddles on the Iridium phone that would be great. This time do send me the answers as well so I can ask the riddles and the guys can answer yes or no questions to solve them.

Right now it is overcast and a little rainy. The wind is blowing between 15 and 18 knots and we are averaging around 6.5 knots. We have yet to catch a fish but not from lack of trying. The line is out! Dylan is going to make Pad Thai for supper tonight and we will probably watch another movie. Everyone is feeling great and spirits are high. We are just South of the Turks and Caicos and should be making our turn up into the Bahamas sometime in the dark tonight.

Thanks for your messages on the Iridium! We love to get them... send us some fun riddles... might want to keep any number riddles to a minimum as the only one who is smart enough to even attempt them is Bob. hehe.

Steering Clear of Pirates,

Captain Tofer, Bob, Jared and Dylan

Sweetest Thing Delivery: St Thomas to Nassau, June 2011

Day 1 and 2

We left Crown Bay Marina at around 2:30pm on the 19th of June. The wind was blowing around 10 to 15 knots from the ENE so our course would be right down wind. First order of business was to rig and launch the SCREECHER sail. The screecher is a giant, big bellied, genoa sail which has its own roller-furler and stay line integral to the sail. To launch it we had to attach the head of the sail/roller furler to the halyard and the foot to its line. Then we had to rig a sheet (we only needed 1 sheet because you will not be tacking or jibing this sail, it is strictly for down wind runs.) Next we tried to untwist any twists in the sail and then Dylan hauled in on the halyard while I worked the sheet and the whole sail went up a lot like a big spinnaker .... POOF it bellied out with only one twist still in it... I let out the sheet a bit while Bob pulled on the leech and the twist came out with another poof, there she was flying beautifully!

We ran the rest of the day and through the night under screecher alone sometimes making 9.5 knots but averaging around 7 knots.

The night was beautiful lots of stars and dodging the occasional squall kept the person on watch on their toes. Jered made spaghetti and that turned out to be his undoing... he had been feeling fine up until his culinary feat but by the time the noodles were done so was Jered... He ended up feeding the fish and, as is usually the case with things like this, soon after Jered had succumbed to the mal-de-mer so did Dylan. Bob and I ate our spaghetti and figured since we both had healthy appetites it would not be our day to make the customary bow before Poseidon and offer up a sacrifice.

We spent the night sailing past the north coast of Puerto Rico watching the lights on the land and the cruise ships come and go in the distance.

This morning the wind died off a bit so we decided to pull the genoa out on the Starboard side of the boat (the screecher is flying on the port side.) We ran the jib sheet out board of the shrouds and through the mid-ships deck cleat and up to the winch. By running the sheet out like this it makes the wide beem of the Cat act almost like a pole to pole out the jib. We rolled it out and just like that we are flying downwind wing-on-wing with the big screecher on port and the big Genoa on starboard! Right now the wind is blowing around 10 knots but the boat is still making 7 knots!! Days like these a mono-hull sailor like myself checks off yet another reason my next boat will probably be a cat.

Hope this finds you all well! Send us a free Iridium message! Beck will post instructions with this blog.

Wing-On-Winging It,

Captain Tofer, Bob, Jered, and Dylan

Monday, June 20, 2011

Captain Tofer and Crew on the move again

June 20, 2011

If you would like to send us some free messages offshore we will have the Iridium phone up and on at all times. Just follow the simple instructions below: you leave the number 8816 that is already in the number slot and add our number to it 32521786 then just type in your message. Don't bother putting your email in the email line as it just uses up the number of letters you can type. However, I (Rebecca) put in a code like Bec1, so they know who it is from.  As well, as the order.  I send up to 5 at a time and they are not delivered in order.  (160 total per message)
But you can send as many as you like and they are free.

When the beep goes off from the phone we always jump to see what it says...

We will also have the SPOT updating every 6 hours or so if you would like to keep track of our progress up the coast.

Just click on the word SPOT up in the upper left of this blog and it will link you to our position.

I will post as the emails come in, so check back daily for the updates.

Fair Winds and Calm Seas,