Welcome to Gypsea Heart

This blog documents the adventures of the sailing vessel Gypsea Heart and her crew Rankin & Sandy. Thank you for visiting our blog and we encourage y'all to poke around and explore. We have many features which will enable you to keep track of us and in touch like subscribing below. We hope you enjoy your visit and follow our adventures.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tilloo Cay

After Christmas, we stayed in Marsh Harbor until Friday, December 30th.  Between Christmas and the 30th on December 27th to be exact, we along with the crew from Dreamer II (Bill, Kim, Walt & Pat) rented a car to run errands around Marsh Harbor and explore a bit driving down to Pete's Pub, a little eclectic place, located south of Marsh Harbor.  After a 30 minute drive, remembering to always drive on the left side of the road, then a turn left down a slightly bumpy dirt road and presto we arrived at Pete's Pub. 

Since our last visit in 2003, Pete's Pub has expanded but overall it has not changed much especially the "Blaster" which is still an excellent rum cocktail with a well deserved reputation.  Pete's Pub has a restaurant that looks as though it's been put together with whatever is lying around the beach and a gallery which houses artful bronze castings.   We relaxed, walked along the beach and shopped in the gallery before enjoying a delightful lunch consisting of fresh grilled fish sandwiches.  After a few hours at Pete's Pub, we returned to "downtown" Marsh Harbour, ran a few more errands (i.e. grocery shopping) and then called it a day.  It was sad to see, but, Kim, Bill's wife, left the Abacos on Friday and returned back to the States.  Kim was a delightful presence in our group and it was truly a pleasure to meet and get to know her.  She will be sorely missed and hopefully we'll have the opportunity to travel with her and Bill again soon.  Bye Kim!!

Pete's Pub Gallery
Hermit Crab Crossing

Pete's Pub
Art work!


We spent a few more days anchored in Marsh Harbour then set sail on Friday, December 30th for Tilloo Cay which we heard was having fireworks and besides it was on our way south to the Exumas.  We left Marsh Harbour around noon arriving in Tilloo Cay at 3:30 p.m. having a very nice sail along the way.  We had Dreamer II (Bill, Walt & Pat) over for dinner and enjoyed a wonderful display of fireworks which lasted about 45 minutes.  It was a wonderful treat.  The next day we went snorkeling where Pat spotted a lobster and Walt managed to capture it. YEAH!!  With fresh lobster in hand, we all returned to our respective vessels and rested.


After a short nap, we left Tilloo Cay around 4 p.m. and sailed overnight arriving in Highborne Cay around 2 p.m.  Now, Highborne Cay was not our original destination which was Cambridge Cay roughly 26 nm south.  I know it was New Years and we did yell a celebratory "Happy New Year" into the VHF on channel 16 while simultaneously dodging the large ships which traverse the Northeast Providence Channel.  We safely passed in between several large vessels and also heard them exchanging "Happy New Year" celebrations between them.  Everyone was ringing in the New Year.

We arrived at Fleeming Channel around 7 a.m. which was intentional since we wanted to cross the banks with good light.  Good light became imperative crossing the banks called the Middle Ground, because we were continuously weaving around coral heads especially as the water depths dropped.  We managed to sail through the banks without incident but another vessel wasn't as fortunate.  They apparently hit a coral head and came to a sudden stop.  Though it was quite concerning, no damaged was sustained to the vessel and they continued their travels across the banks.

After crossing the banks, we decided to divert to Highborne Cay because Dreamer II was experiencing a mechanical problem.  Both vessels came through the pass without issue and anchored at Highborne Cay.  The guys (Walt, Rankin and Bill) troubleshooted and resolved the mechanical issue aboard Dreamer II then, after we had cocktails to celebrate everyone a bit tired from the trip, turned in for the night.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Marsh Harbor - HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

We arrived in Marsh Harbor and took a slip at the Jib Room as a Christmas present to ourselves ... water, electricity, cable which means football.  AAAHHH what a nice gift.  Shortly after we docked, we had a special visitor drop by ... Santa Claus and his Sumo Wrestler Elf! 

What a surprise.  So,naturally, we invited Santa and his Sumo Wrestler Elf on board and since we didn't have any cookies made we offered Santa and his helper a cocktail.  So, Santa and his Sumo Wrestler Elf came aboard and shared a few cocktails with us.  It was such a joy getting to know Santa and his slightly overweight helper personally.  Thanks Santa and Sumo Wrestler Elf for sharing the holiday spirit with us.

On Christmas Day, we prepared and gathered our potluck dishes and had a very nice holiday dinner at the Jib Room where the owner's Boo (Linda) and Tom supplied the ham and turkey and the cruisers supplied the side dishes.  Thanks to Boo, Tom, Steve (their son) and the other chefs who help prepare a fabulous Christmas dinner.  Y'all made a wonderful meal.

Jolly Mon
Potluck dishes
Rankin waiting to eat!
We stuffed our bellies with food and mimosas and then gathered for a quick games of dominoes before continuing the celebration aboard Gypsea Heart.   We had a wonderful holiday celebration with good friends and also made a few new friends though we truly missed our family and friends who couldn't be here to celebrate with us.  We hope you all had a very, very Happy Holiday!!  Until the next time!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Abaco Islands

Before we began our update, we want to wish everyone a very Happy Holiday Season.   We hope you had a wonderful holiday celebration as we did here in the Bahamas. 

We've spent the past few weeks cruising around the various islands which make up the Abaco Islands.  In between bouts of high winds which keep us in harbor, we cruised around to Treasure Cay, Hope Town, and Great Guana.

On Wednesday, December 7th we left Marsh Harbor and had a wonderful slow sail to Treasure Cay.  Like Marsh Harbor, Treasure Cay is part of Great Abaco Island, however, it is located north west of Marsh Harbor.  Treasure Cay is a vacation community and you can see cute light colored yellow, green, blue and pink condominiums dotting the waters edge near the anchorage.  It's a small community with a just few shops, a grocery store, bakery, and a couple of restaurants.  One restaurant, the Tipsy Seagull has a swim up pool bar and another nearby (of course everything is nearby) restaurant, Coco Beach, has a spectacular view of a long beautiful white beach which runs along the Abaco Sea.

After a day or so in Treasure Cay, we sailed back to Marsh Harbor arriving on December 9th to join up with our friends Dave & Camilla on Southern Heat.  Weather had kept them hold up on another island, so this was our first opportunity to meet up with them in the Bahamas.   The weather kept us harbor bound for almost a week and when you can't snorkel the other alternative is to eat, drink and be merry.  We entertained ourselves watching football (Army vs. Navy ... go Navy!) and making homemade ice cream (YUM!).  Rankin got a Cuisinart (CIM-22 Series) ice cream maker for his birthday and this was our first opportunity to use it.  We made vanilla ice cream and it was delicious.

I think he likes his birthday present
Camilla & Dave like it too!

We waited almost 7 days for winds to abate finally on Thursday, December 15th we left Marsh Harbor along with Southern Heat destination Hope Town.  With winds blowing 15-24 knots we had a nice and quite fast sail to Hope Town racing along with Southern Heat who arrived ahead of us.  Hope Town (downtown) is located on the northern part of Elbow Cay and it is an idyllic Bahamian town with it's quaint cottages decorated for Christmas and the candy striped lighthouse decorated with Christmas lights which serves as a backdrop.

Upon our arrival, we walked around town enjoying the beautiful scenery as we quickly made our way to Vernon's Grocery for a Key Lime Pie.  If you haven't tried Vernon's Key Lime Pie it's worth a stop and the $15 cost.  The next day (December 16th) we rented a golf cart and along with Dave, Camilla and Rider (their dog) puttered around Elbow Cay exploring the northern and southern part of the island.   We were surprised to see many large beautiful rental cottages, homes and a few resorts  located in the southern part of the island along with pretty Tahiti Beach.  

Construction near White Sound
Great Holiday decorations

Our friends Walt, Pat and Bill (Pat's brother) recently arrived Marsh Harbor on the sailing vessel Dreamer II, so we departed Hope Town on December 17th and had a nice downwind, watermaking sail to Marsh Harbor.  Once in Marsh Harbor, Walt & Pat joined us on our boat while Bill and his family and friends (Kim, Catherine, A.J., George, Laurie & Abbey) stayed on Dreamer II.  Now, it's time to cruise with Dreamer II.  We stayed a few days in Marsh Harbor just long enough to enjoy a little bocci ball before returning to Hope Town again on Monday, December 19th.   We spent the night in Hope Town exploring the downtown area with Dreamer II this time skipping the Key Lime Pie.  The next day (December 20th) we left Hope Town and sailed south to Baker's Rock near Tahiti Beach.  We arrived around 2:30 p.m. which gave us enough time to snorkel around Tahiti Beach and then everyone came aboard Gypsea Heart for a steak dinner.  George, Lauri & Abbey were kind enough to donate steaks for the entire group.  Thank you George, Laurie & Abbey for sharing the delicious steaks with us.

Pat & A.J. bocci ball champions!
Everyone enjoying dinner @ Harborview

We left Baker's Rock early (around 8:30 a.m.) on Wednesday, December 21st to catch high tide for our sail to Great Guana.  It wasn't a fast sail, but very peaceful and pleasant dropping the hook in Great Guana around noon just in time for lunch at Nipper's.  Nipper's is a restaurant and bar just a short walk from the anchorage.  Upon our arrival, we relaxed and enjoyed the wonderful Caribbean music, the beautiful view of the ocean, a Nipper's cocktail and the BEST cracked lobster ever!   Unfortunately, we were limin' and did not get a single photograph perhaps during our next visit.  Once everyone was finished with lunch and exploring the beach, we returned home (Gypsea Heart).

The next day we left Great Guana motored a short distance to the tip of Baker's Bay had a quick snorkel and then sailed to Treasure Cay.  We were again at Treasure Cay this time with Dreamer II then later Southern Heat (Dave & Camilla) dropped a hook.  We spent just a couple of nights in Treasure Cay having lunch at Coco Beach restaurant, enjoying cocktails at the pool at the Tipsy Seagull, and making a few purchases at Abaco Ceramics where you can buy hand painted items and meet the artist, Karen.  

On Christmas Eve after doing a few chores, we left Treasure Cay about thirty minutes after Southern Heat and had a very nice and quick sail to Marsh Harbor.  During our sail, we caught a nice photo of Southern Heat as we passed. 

Southern Heat (Dave & Camilla)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Marsh Harbor, Bahamas

We left Great Sale Cay on Monday, November 28th and enjoyed island hopping along the Northern islands (i.e. Carter's Cay and Powell Cay), something we had wanted to do for years. We especially liked Allans-Pensacola Cay with it's protected harbor and small, pretty beaches.  We had several days of downwind foresail only ghosting which was lovely.   We peacefully cruised around 4 to 6 knots (foresail only) fast enough to make progress but slow enough to appreciate and absorb the scenery. 

On Thursday, December 1st, we came through Whale Cay Channel, which can be dangerous with northerly winds and opposing tidal currents, at slack tide with 2 to 5 foot beam waves.  From personal observation, we remember this situation would have been a bit uncomfortable in our mono-hull, however, we now find these conditions pleasant.   We continued our downwind foresail only sailing through the Whale Cay Channel and until we arrived in Marsh Harbor around 3:30 p.m.

Since we've been in Marsh Harbor, we splurged and purchased internet service through Out Island Internet (OII) which was quite pricey at $99/month.  Though, the service does cover several other islands we plan to visit during our stay in the Bahamas and it has been pretty good.  We are definitely getting full use out of this service. 

After being on the boat for about 12 days straight, yesterday we decided to put some clothes on (just kidding ... we've been wearing clothes) and make a trip into town for the Christmas festivities.  We jumped into the dinghy and went ashore.  After making a quick trash deposit, we walked about a mile, asking for directions several times along the way (that was me, Sandy, asking for directions), before we reached the Christmas festival. 

It was a lot of fun watching the kids play and get their faces painted, doing a little shopping, listening to a local children's choir and jamming with a local military band who had the first woman drum major.  The band was dressed out and marching while playing Silent Night with an island flair.  While shopping, we met a man from the local bikers group called Scurvy Few and knowing that the island is small we asked him where they ride.  To our surprise, he said they ride about a 120 miles, further than what we thought, and that the road is one long straight road so they rarely get lost.  We didn't buy much, but did enjoy some tasty cracked conch.

Christmas Tree
Face Painting
Scurvy Few

Local Children's Choir
First Female Drum Major
Local Military Band

After a few hours at the Christmas Festival, it was time for our hike home and then what would probably be a wet dinghy ride back to the boat since the wind had been gusty all day.  We had a great day out and even managed to stay dry during the trip home.  The winds been blowing pretty good here, so we'll stay a few more days in Marsh Harbor until the weather settles down.  Then we hope to explore some of the other islands located in the Abacos, and we hope you'll join us.  TTFN!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Great Sale Cay, Bahamas

As of our last post, we had just arrived in West Palm Beach, Florida around 3 p.m. on Tuesday, November 22nd.  Things were happening fast.  We had a decent weather window for a Gulf Stream crossing to the Bahamas, so we decided to leave West Palm Beach around 10 p.m. which gave us a few hours of rest and relaxation.

Two other boats left West Palm Beach with us, a sailing vessel named The Edge and another named Celeste.  We originally aimed for what the charts called "Memory Rock" waypoint, but we had to point 35 degrees to starboard to counteract the Gulf Stream current (3-4 knots) which pointed us too far into the wind to sail.  So, we changed course and headed to "Little Bahama Bank" waypoint further North than Memory Rock and were able to motorsail and then sail.  We arrived on the banks at dawn and motorsailed to Great Sale Cay where we dropped the hook around 4 p.m.  Though we could not sail the entire trip, it was an easy trip across the Gulf Stream with low seas. 

We stayed here for Thanksgiving Day due to weather or just because we were being lazy and enjoyed being on anchor again.   For Thanksgiving, we had all the fixin's (i.e. stuffing, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, etc.) aboard, so we didn't miss out on a good size feast.   Though we truly miss our family and friends, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope everyone also had a fabulous Thanksgiving Day!

Thanksgiving Day 2011

We stayed in Great Sale Cay for several more days to let the weather settle down a bit and then began slowly making our way to Marsh Harbor.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

St. Augustine, Florida

After spending about two months in Charleston, South Carolina enjoying the beautiful city and waiting of hurricane season to end, we finally began making our way south.  We left Charleston on Sunday, November 13th made a quick overnight stop in Fernandina Beach, Florida on the 14th where we met up with our friends Dave and Camilla aboard Southern Heat.  We strolled for cocktails at Green Turtle where they served $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) and $2 Budweiser ... what a deal.  Then had a nice dinner at Espana located on Fourth street which was recommended by our bartender at Green Turtle.

We left Fernandina Beach the next morning at 4:00 a.m. and we arrived in St. Augustine, Florida on November 15th and grabbed a mooring ball for $20 a night.  Twenty dollars a night is not too bad considering it includes a free water taxi service, free pump out service and access to laundry, showers and the dinghy dock.  We spent the next four days touring the city and doing a few chores like laundry.  Our friend Jerry came down for a night.  Though he only spent one night, he drove us around to West Marine (boat store), Winn Dixie (grocery store) and a local marine store which sold used parts for less.  While waiting for Rankin to make some final purchases in one of the marine stores, Jerry and I enjoyed some "raw" snacks and organic drinks at a nearby restaurant ... he didn't love it.  Thanks so much Jerry for being such a trooper.  That same evening, we went to the Lighting of the Lights downtown and had a wonderful dinner at Columbia, a nice Cuban restaurant.

It was a quick visit in St. Augustine because it's time to head south, so we left Sunday, November 20th after dropping Jerry off at the fuel dock while we topped off the tanks.  We sailed slowly (at times around 2 knots) down to West Palm Beach, Florida and arrived today November 22nd.  We'll only be here about 6 hours, because there's a weather window to cross the gulf stream to the Bahamas.  So we'll take a quick nap, have dinner and then leave for the Bahamas around 10 p.m.  We should arrive the Bahama Banks around 7 am and we should be anchored by tomorrow afternoon.  That's all for now but we'll keep you posted.  Take care everyone and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston City Marina

We arrived safely in Charleston harbor yesterday around noon.  We're booked at the Charleston City Marina for a month which is located about two hour (sailboat time) down the harbor.  As we motor down the harbor, we slowly cruise past Fort Sumter on our port side ... it hasn't changed a bit.  The starboard side is lined with beautiful southern homes.

We continue down the harbor and immediately notice the "new" bridge.  The last time we sailed into this harbor was 2003 and we were pretty sure this bridge did not exist at that time.  We later found out it's called the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.  Here's a quick Wikipedia excerp, "The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, also known as the New Cooper River Bridge, is a cable-stayed bridge over the Cooper River in South Carolina, connecting downtown Charleston to Mount Pleasant. The eight lane bridge satisfied the capacity of U.S. Route 17 when it opened in 2005 to replace two obsolete cantilever truss bridges. The bridge has a main span of 1,546 feet (471 m), the second longest among cable-stayed bridges in the Western Hemisphere."   It's quiet attractive especially today since a sailboat race is about to begin and there are many boats cruising around vying for the best position with the bridge displayed in the background.  By the way, the sailboat race was cancelled due to lack of wind.

Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge or New Cooper River Bridge

We finally arrived and docked at the Charleston City Marina around 2 p.m. and proceeded to get the boat settled (connecting power and TV cables, etc.).  Then, it was shower and nap time.  Walt and Pat arrived at 6 p.m. and we had a splendid evening sharing new stories and reminiscing about old cruising exploits.  We are truly looking forward to spending the next two weeks with our friends and enjoying Charleston.

Me, Walt & Pat
Rankin, Walt & Pat

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thunderbolt, GA to Charleston, SC

Overnight Trip

We are currently sailing from Thunderbolt, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina and our current position is below. We left Thunderbolt about 5:30 p.m. planning on a beautiful night sail so we can arrive Charleston in the daylight. As we weave our way down the Wilmington River, a sunset on our starboard side provides a nice orangey, pink backdrop. On the port side, what looks like a full moon provides a subtle display of its own.

We motor past the beautiful red roofed homes surrounded by trees until we arrive at the low lands. We see a boat anchored which from a distance has the illusion of being anchored on land. The water blends into the land so seamlessly the only distinction is the change in color from blue to green.

There's a park ashore and Rankin observes the people through binoculars as they watch us pass by. From my view, the sun is silhouetting Rankin as he sits at the helm and I relax on the moon side enjoying the view. There are no other boats around no noise except the hum of the motor and sound of a few sea gulls. Earlier while raising the mainsail, we had problems with the electric winch, however, as we slowly make our way down the Wilmington River into Wassaw Sound these small inconveniences seem to fall away like the setting sun.

We slip slowly past the red and green markers into the ocean. The channel to the ocean seems endless and the seas and winds impede our progress, but no short cuts are allowed due to shallow depths on either side. It has taken three hours, and we finally reach the last flashing red marker signalling the finish line enabling us to point North, pull out our jib, turn off the engines and sail.
The wind has been blowing around 10-15 knots from the stern quarter with calm 2 foot seas which enable us to sail at around 6 to 7 knots. At times, the wind is a bit fickle and on occasion drops under 10 knots. Though we may sail slower, it's been a very nice night passage. The moon hanging around until just after 4 a.m.

It's about 8:30 a.m. and I just finished making morning breakfast and espresso coffee for that extra "pick me up" after a night of two hours on two hours off watches. We should arrive Charleston this afternoon and will meet up with our old cruising friends Walt and Pat from sailing vessel Centime. We can't wait.

LATITUDE: 32-28.83N
LONGITUDE: 079-53.33W
SPEED: 5.0

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thunderbolt, Georgia

Thunderbolt Marine

While we wait out hurricane season, we thought it would be a good idea to have the boat hauled.  We're having the bottom painted, shaft seals replaced (maintenance) and another Dynaplate  installed.  A Dynaplate provides a ground for our short wave radio and installation requires drilling a hole through the boat which always makes us nervous so we leave it up to the professionals AND cross our fingers.  We have also inspected the Max Props and more importantly had the professionals here at Thunderbolt check the Max props to determine if servicing was required.  After greasing the Max props, the pros determined no servicing was required.  This means less time on the hard, YEAH!  If all goes well (let's not talk about it then maybe it will), we'll be back in the water by Friday (September 2nd). 

The professionals are not doing all the work.  In May, we had Gypsea Heart professionally washed and waxed in Bradenton, FL, by Debbie.  She did a fantastic job.  Now, we feel it's our responsibility to maintain it.  So, we decided to wash and wax the boat ourselves.  It took us two and half hours to wash and wax just the outside portion of the port hull and it looks good.  Now we just have the outside of the starboard hull, the entire portion underneath the boat and the entire topside to complete and we'll be done ... I hope we survive.

The name says it all!
First haul out as new owner


Bottoms clean and she's blocked
I am not just posing

Speaking of surviving, our thoughts are with those who were impacted by Hurricane Irene.  Waxing a boat in the Georgia heat is nothing compared to the devastation of a hurricane.   Most of our family and friends made it through unscathed, though one family member may be trapped in her home with her husband and teenage daughter, running the generator for power with limited gas and food for two weeks.  Their fate is still unknown.  We hope the best for everyone.  Until the next time.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bradenton, Florida

Twin Dolphin Marina

We left Isla Mujeres on April 25th and arrived the Tampa Bay channel on April 27th around 11 p.m sailing the entire trip.  Thank goodness because as we entered the channel, we dropped the sails and started the engines and immediately noticed no water exiting the port engine which meant if we continued to run the engine it would overheat.  So, we shutdown the engine hoping the problem was just a matter of replacing the impeller.  It was something that we'd troubleshoot later for now we were focused on transiting the channel.  We continued motoring down the Tampa Bay channel with only the starboard engine and keeping watch for large ships transversing the channel.  It seemed to take forever but we made it safely through the channel and anchored at Egmont Island dropping the hook around 1 a.m.  After a few hours of sleep, we moved and anchored near DeSoto Point where we originally planned on staying the weekend.  However, after our nap we woke and determined that due to weather concerns we would not be staying the weekend but instead head straight to Twin Dolphin Marina.

We spent about a month and a half getting the boat in tip top shape (i.e. engine maintenance, rigging inspection, additional equipment installation, etc.), moving our possessions out of storage and onto the boat, finding a place for our stuff on the boat, provisioning, cleaning and then selling the RV (Molly), and also preparing for our guests to arrive Janie (Rankin's mother) and Dash (Rankin's niece).  Sometimes pictures do not speak louder than words.


Janie arrived on Saturday, June 11th and of course we had everything ready ... hardly.  Janie begged us for boat chores so we kindly obliged and put her to work.  She vacuumed, assembled our wine rack, washed dishes and laundry, and yes, she even cleaned the windows.  She did everything with a big smile on her face or maybe that was just for the camera.  Thanks for all your help Janie you're wonderful!!

The boat was finally starting to come together.  It seemed like a good time for a day sail.  Rankin and Janie have family in Tampa, so it was time for a day sail.  JoAnna (Janie's cousin) and Sheldon (Joanna's husband) along with their daughter, Erin, son-in-law, Patrick and grandson, Ben came over for a fabulous day cruise.

Janie & Joanna
Ben & Erin

Janie & Sheldon

Patrick & Ben
Joanna & Janie
 We were practically ready and just in time for Dash's (Rankin's niece) arrival on Tuesday, June 14.    Dash had just had a birthday so we had belated birthday party.  The next day we had another celebration with Janie's cousin Leah enjoying a nice dinner at Mattison's.

Janie, Leah, Rankin, me and Dash
After a few more days of cleaning, shopping and one more party "the Departure Party" which included friends we met while staying at Twin Dolphin Marina, we left Twin Dolphin Marina and Bradenton for the Dry Tortugas, Florida.
Debbie, Judy & William
Janie & Rankin