Festival of Lights in Green Turtle Cay

Amy judged this to be the winner

On Saturday night we went into the town center for a barbeque, decorated golf cart contest, and the Newleywed Game. Amy was a judge for the golf cart contest (Santa’s Sleigh won) and Matt and Amy won the Newleywed Game beating out a couple who have been married for 26 years! Amy had so much fun and Matt was a good sport. Graham was generally embarrassed.

Sea creatures!

We have all kinds of sea creatures living around us at Bluff House Marina on Green Turtle Cay.  We have a huge and very beautiful starfish that lives just on the edge of the shallow water and goes in and out with the tide each day.  It is larger that my whole face and is bright bright orange.  We met some neighbors yesterday who own a very big power yacht.  They have many cobalt blue underwater lights on their boat so that at night you can see all the fish.  It is like being in an aquarium with fresh air and a million stars all around.  It gives you a peaceful easy feeling (music lovers enjoy the trivia ;-)

Thanksgiving and a very nontraditional Black Friday

Today is the day after Thanksgiving.  Matt and Graham just came back from scuba diving where they again saw a shark but also caught lobster, grouper and conch and cooked it on  a bonfire on the beach and had it for lunch and they said it was fabulous! I walked on the beach all day and i caught a HUGE pink and orange conch with the conch still in the shell.  Conch salad is sort of like seafood pico de gallo and is yummy but we threw this one back.  just wanted to keep it long enough to show the boys.  There was no one on the beach today so I had my music and I sang (poorly) and danced (freely) and had a grand old time.  As you may know, I am not known for being on the cutting edge of technology.  So when I say that I was listening to my music today, I mean that I was listening to some mixed cassette tapes circa 15-20 years ago on my walkman (yes, actual cassette player).  We have aboard an iTouch, two nanos, an iHome, an mp3 player, two computers with Pandora, a new marine stereo system, and an iPad — all, of course, capable of playing music.  But I like my walkman and I am very attached to my cassette tapes for sentimental reasons.  When the boys were out scuba duiving, I was struggling with getting myself and the washing back on the boat and my treasured (and very hard to replace) walkman is now at the bottom of the deep blue sea.  :-(

Thanksgiving was traditional turkey and trimmings and then we watched TV — a real treat!

Notes from the passage

Happy Thanksgiving!  Some notes from the passage that I am just finding:

“I am on watch for the 3rd night in a row.  There is no moon and I can’t even see my hand in front of my face.  I can see the tri-color lights of a sailboat way off in the distance.  Graham and I made a deal that I would take his watch 6-9 and my watch 9-12 if he gave me a pedicure and foot massage in the cockpit.  We are so far away from rush hour.  It is so peaceful.  Stars!  Stars!  Stars!  Much calmer than last night.  When I went below after my watch I tried to sleep in the v-berth (Captain’s Quarters) and I kept going airborne with the smashing of the waves.”

Our crew, Angie’s, entry for SAIL magazine about the passage

 S/V Troubadour had a very enjoyable trip.  The only disappointment was that in spite of all our preparations and purchases of fancy lures,  and unending efforts we never caught a fish.  Everything went fairly well up until after we crossed the finish line at about 3:30 AM.  On that last night, the winds were light, and all was quite peaceful and we were anticipating a quick and easy landing.  while we were calmly waiting for daylight to sail into the cut, weather conditions deteriorated rapidly.  It seems mother nature wanted to show us at the last minute what she could have dealt us during the actual cruise.  The winds increased to 27knots, the seas became rough, which lead to some boat damage including an engine that would no longer start.  The situation became quite stressful, as the weather was forecasted to worsen and we could not attempt to enter the cut in those conditions with no engine.  We spent a few hours analyzing the engine, while trying to figure out a backup plan.  Luckily, Matt had previously videoed a technician doing maintenance on Troubadour’s engine, and with the help of that video Matt was able to quickly resolve the problem.  We were soon on our way through the cut and docked in Green Turtle Cay.  We were all tremendously relieved and happy to have made it in safely.


 What a difference a few hours can make in a journey to anyone, especially a child. The bright young 11 year old, Graham Gillman, the only child to participate in the rally, survived the ordeal just fine.  I was impressed with his ability to handle it all.  Typical of a child’s fist ocean cruise, he did not like the stormy situation at all and stated that he never ever wanted to go sailing again, never wanted to get on a boat again, etc. But 30 minutes later, as we entered the cut and the seas calmed, Graham climbed into the cockpit. He could not contain his excitement at seeing for the first time the beauty of the water & the islands.  Graham stated over & over so excitedly  ”I take back what I said, I take back what I said. I love this place.  The water is so pretty.  I want to stay here forever.”    He was so cute.  I pulled out my camera for the first time on this trip and tried to capture his expression.

 Background:  Matt Gillman, his wife Amy Beal, and son Graham Gillman are setting out on their life dream.  They sold their house & cars 2 months ago and will cruise for a few years.  They are homeshooling Graham.

 written by:  Angie Baylis, professional crew/ advisor on the trip.

Graham’s words for SAIL magazine about the Caribbean 1500 rally

Long and tiring is how I normally respond to people who ask, “How was the trip?”.  But really besides the last day, it was really fun.  I was the only kid in the Bahamas class so everybody made a big fuss over me.  I was kind of disappointed that I never caught a fish during the 1500 because I put my line out every day.  It was a great experience to me and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a nice fun sail.



Arrival: Green Turtle Cay

We made it!  Troubadour is a great offshore sailboat.  The more we sail her the more we appreciate the all of the little details of the Robert Perry design and the tweaks made by previous owners.

We departed from Hampton, Va on Friday November 11th with a 10 AM start off of Old Point Comfort at Fort Monroe.  The crew was me, Amy, Graham, and Angie.  Angie is a very experienced delivery crew who came along to help us with sailing and watches as we learn the boat.  Winds were 18-25 knots out of the NW which made for a downwind run under a single reefed main.  We had to jibe a couple of times to get out of the Chesapeake Bay over the tunnel of the CB Bridge Tunnel.   Once on the open Atlantic we were mostly on a starboard tack at about 130 degrees magnetic. I think we entered the Gulfstream on Sunday morning very early (Happy Birthday Chris!).  As we cross the Gulfstream, off comes the fleece, gloves, and heavy foul weather gear.  In a few hours out come the shorts and the fishing gear.

We have an informal watch schedule during the day and 3 hour watches at night: Graham from 6-9, Amy 9-midnight, Angie midnight to 3, I get the 3-7:30.  At 7:30 we do an SSB check-in with fleet position reports and wind direction and strength  The morning check-in also includes the weather forecast for the high seas.  We use this in addtion to the high seas radio fax  reports we get by connecting the SSB to the laptop (thanks Dave!).

It is pleasant sailing although the wind is often what we Chesapeake Bay racers call no wind out of the south.  We motor through the calms and sail when we can.  I picked up a great book, An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude (thanks Jeff Kan!) which we read on the way down.  By the 5th day, everyone is reading the book at the same time.  It has four bookmarks in it. 

Graham hangs out on Troubadour's back porch at 30.12 N 75.00 W

 By Thursday, as we approach the finish line, the wind shifts to the NNE and the seas begin to build. At 4 AM we heave to in big seas off off the Spanish Cay south cut.  We have been told to not to attempt the cut at night.  Then Mr Murphy, as in: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, pays us a visit.  First, we break a chainplate, second we get pooped by a wave that breaks into the cockpit.  The wave seems to have caused a short in the engine panel and we can’t get the engine started.  We want to motor into the cut and although we can sail in we want to have the engine running we we enter the cut.  There is a bypass starter on board which I have to dig out.  When I go to connect the bypass starter we find the problem is a blown fuse!  A quick change with a replacement from the ample supply of spares the previous owners had on board helps us to banish Mr. Murphy for a while.  We motorsail through the cut at about noon and the seas die down to a 3 ft chop.  We arrive at Green Turtle Cay at about 3:30 PM welcomed by Bluff House staff and Johnny, the Caribbean 1500 staffer.

Currently, we relaxing in the marina organizing the the repair list and making reservations to go scuba diving with Brendal.


Graham’s poem about life on the boat

Waiting here for mom, sitting on the boat, masts, water, dock, our view at home. My mother is in view, she makes the boat home.

The dry rub of gravel, the slow creak of ropes. The piercing cry of birds, the soft splish of the ocean, the loud quack of ducks.

The scent of a salty ocean, pumpkins cooking strong and thick. Fallen leaves rotting to join the sun and the food.

The dark, the night, nothing left but the hoot of an owl and that too soon to vanish for dawn.

Update Departure Postponed

Our departure for the Bahamas has been delayed to the 9th because of a nasty low near our route.  It has been a hectic week trying to prepare for departure.  We had a variety of things that we need to get done.  Our safety inspection was very helpful as it turned up a few items that needed fixing.  That meant two trips to West Marine and a few of the vendors here.  The Carib