We’re in the Bahamas!!!
We left Lake Worth/Palm Beach, Florida, Wednesday morning at 4:00 a.m. It was a beautifully clear night, with stars and moonlight to guide us. 150 miles and two days later, we arrived in Green Turtle Cay, in the Abacos and cleared Customs. Hurray!!!
Here’s what we did. New Year’s Day was spent preparing the boat and ourselves, making sure that all systems were working properly, that we had enough of the right kind of provisions, and that everything was stowed, both on deck and below, so that our stuff wouldn’t roll off the boat or crash onto the floor as the boat rolled/heaved/pitched. We also deflated the dinghy, rolled it up into its cover, and lashed it to the deck amidships. A kind man at the marina where we went for Customs had loaned us his car and we visited the grocery and boat parts stores on Monday. We also made up the berth in the main cabin so we could take turns sleeping and we got food ready that requires no additional preparation. We were good to go, depending on the weather.
For weather, we checked the National Weather Service, http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/home.htm#graphic; L-36.com; Passageweather.com; and barometerbob.org. We were also receiving regular emails from Chris Parker, the weather guru at the Marine Weather Center, www.caribwx.com, and we monitored the SSB for reports from the BASRA weather net, Cruiseheimers net and the Waterway net. Also available are the Caribbean weather net and Herb – Southbound 2. The forecasts were consistent that winds and waves would moderate/subside on Wednesday and stay light and variable through Friday morning. A motor boat ride.
We planned our route across the Gulf Stream by calculating the distance the Stream would push us north and then figuring out the compass heading that would allow for that drift, i.e., you steer south of where you want to end up so that the Stream doesn’t push you way north of your destination. That part of the trip is just over fifty miles – about 10 hours for us. We planned to pass onto the Banks at the Little Bahama Bank cut, north of Memory Rock and proceed another 50 miles to Great Sale Cay for the night, or what was left of it. Our route was entered into our chart plotter. We wanted to arrive at Great Sale so we could get some sleep and leave as soon as it was daylight. So we worked backwards and decided to leave Lake Worth at 4 a.m. Thankfully, the moon and stars were very bright and there was virtually no other boat traffic. The ocean was fairly calm with some rollers coming in from the SE. These actually got stronger as we crossed.
The sun greeted us sometime after 7am.
Truthfully, it was a pretty calm and uneventful crossing. Which can make for a good crossing. Some wind would have been hugely appreciated, but you don’t get to pick each component of your crossing weather – wind speed/direction and wave height/direction. I’d been very nervous about the crossing for weeks, but when the time came, it was exciting and fun. We were finally going to do it.
Nancy, taking a walk on the boat. Notice that I am wearing an inflatable vest and (you can’t see this), I am hooked on to the boat.
Goldwin in the cockpit, steering.
Once on the Banks, the water turned a brilliant blue; it actually got a bit rollier; and then it really calmed down to just plain flat. For part of the trip, we had some wind from the SE and were able to motor sail.
We watched the sun set behind us.
As we got more tired and it got darker, we started second-guessing ourselves about our fuel consumption and the amount of fuel we had on board. We carry 20 gallons in the tank and 5 gallons in a can on deck. We put the 5 gallons in the tank and made ourselves crazy trying to do the math to figure out if we had enough to get to the closest fuel dock – probably another 100 miles. Just before we reached Great Sale, after hearing the same two boats on the radio most of the night – a little behind us – we called them and asked if they could spare a can of diesel. Being wonderful people of the traditional cruising community, and Canadians, they quickly offered us diesel, to be picked up the next morning.
All three boats anchored about midnight at Great Sale. There were no other boats in the main anchorage. After we cleared the waypoint, we just chugged in until we got to 10 feet. We could faintly see land ahead of us as the moon had come up, bright and gorgeous. We promptly collapsed in our bunks, setting the alarm for 6am. On my IPhone, the alarm is Jimmy Buffett singing “Changes in Latitudes,” which woke us to a beautiful Bahamian morning.
We motored over to the generous boat and picked up their fuel can – which we carried all the way to Green Turtle and NEVER used. We had plenty of fuel.
We were able to motor sail in a modest SE wind and reached Manjack a/k/a Nunjack Cay in time to get the hook down before sunset. At that point, we’d been underway, motoring or motoring sailing, for 30 of the 37 hours since we’d left Florida at 4 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Just before arriving, we’d lost electrical power and discovered that the bolt securing the alternator bracket had sheared off. So our next project is to find a bolt that fits; get the sheared part of the bolt out of the hole; and, for the interim, locate an alternate power source (A/k/a a marina, but the solar panels would have also worked and we do have those sails we could possibly use instead of motoring.) But meanwhile, we had a beautiful evening, watching the gorgeous colors of the post-sunset sky. And we celebrated by cooking up our refrigerated meat – it had to be eaten that day. Which resulted in some wonderful meatballs and Chesapeake chicken (chicken with Old Bay), which we enjoyed with some very nice wine.
Manjack/Nunjack island is very interesting and you can walk to the beach. But we hadn’t cleared Bahamian customs and were not allowed to go to shore. In fact, we are required to fly a yellow flag indicating our illegal, pre-customs status. We don’t have one, so we hoisted a yellow t-shirt on our flag halyard and that seemed to work just fine.
In the morning we pulled anchor and motored the very short distance to Green Turtle, to a slip at the Bluff House Marina in White Sound. Hot showers, occasional internet, and great food, with the little town of Green Turtle just a short dinghy ride away. When we went over to clear customs, we picked up some groceries – not many because the freight boat hadn’t arrived yet – and had lunch at the Pineapple restaurant. We just beached our dinghy, walked up to the yellow picnic table and had delicious grilled fish fingers and conch fritters with our Kalik beer and rum punch fruity drink.
The company here at the Bluff House marina is great – we had dinner with couples from three other boats, including our benefactors. Tomorrow and Sunday we find a bolt, re-attach the alternator, clean up the boat, and get watered, showered, laundered, and fueled before we move on.
So we are finally here and honestly, it’s a happiness attack because it’s so beautiful and the weather is so perfect and – we did it.