Welcome to the Bahamas
Well, as you probably know by now, we have made it to the Bahamas. After trying twice and having to turn back to Florida I was very nervous when we set out for the third time.
The crossing was great. When we left Fort Lauderdale we were escorted out of the harbour by as many as six dolphins riding in our bow wake. A good luck sign if ever there was one. The waters were smooth and the wind and slight swells were on our stern, giving us a nice push east and north. The Gulf Stream kicked in around 4 NM off shore and that made the going even faster. We had a very little window for the crossing so we were grateful for all the help Mother Nature gave us.
About 50 miles into our 80 mile crossing, the swells got bigger and started to rock us a little more. I was ok but poor Gary got queasy and had to lie down for a while.
In the Gulf Stream the water is incredibly deep and incredibly blue. Our depth sounder started flashing at 2000 feet and then stopped working all together. It unnerved me so I turned it off. The colour of the water is the deepest blue, unbelievably beautiful. All along our trip we were entertained by flying fish. A wonder of nature and a delight to see.
FINALY we arrived at Old Bahama Bay in West End on Great Bahama Bank. We treated ourselves to a stay in the Marina, a very expensive “treat”. We were welcomed by the friendly Bahamian staff and in a matter of less than an hour we had cleared customs. The locals are very friendly. The views were amazing. We went for a little walk on the beach with the crew from SV Last Waltz and enjoyed the sunset.
We had to get the boat livable again. In preparation for the crossing we had moved all the heavy stuff from the fly bridge down to lower the center of gravity. Now we had to move it all back again, but I am not complaining. I was just so happy to be here and looking forward to relaxing…..little did we know…..
The next morning after a cup of coffee on the beach, watching the sunrise, we decided to head to Mangrove Cay (pronounced KEY). Mangrove Cay is literally just a pile of mangroves that give some shelter for the night at anchor. It felt like we had finally arrived in paradise!! The water is so clear you can see the bottom! We went for a dingy ride and explored all around the Cay, looking for the wreck of a plane that had crashed off the cay. Unfortunately were couldn’t find it.
The next morning we set off to Great Sale Cay. Our next stop in crossing the banks. The water is never deeper than 12 feet so it is very safe. Just east of Mangrove Cay we saw our first Fish Mud, so many bonefish, shoveling in the sand for food that it turns the water milky. From a distance it looked like a sand bar in the water but the depth never went under 11 feet. I had read about this phenomenon so we were expecting it, but I imagine if you see it all of a sudden it could scare the daylights out of you.
We arrived in Great Sake Cay and as soon as we could headed to shore for a walk on the beach. The waters in the Great Sale cay are full of sea turtles. We saw quite a few and some as big as two feet across while we were anchoring. They would pop up, give us a look and then dive back down out of sight.
Saturday December 21, 2012
(According to the Mayans, the world was supposed to end today)
The following morning we woke up to slightly higher winds. The weather in the Bahamas plays a big role in one’s boating life. Everything depends on the weather here. There is a constant breeze, especially in the winter months and it is usually around 10-15 knots. The weather moves in a clockwise pattern. Winds move from east to south to west to north. East and South winds are warm but beware the North winds. And today we are expecting a big blow from the SW-West-NW, forecasted for around 25knots. It looked like the squall was heading our way. In a matter of moments the wind picked up and the rain came down. As we were closing hatches we noticed that we were dragging our anchor.
Dragging the anchor is NOT good. It means that the hold you had, keeping your boat into the wind and waves is now non-existent. This is the first time we dragged our anchor since we started our trip. The wind and waves were so fierce and whipped around so quickly that our anchor got all fouled up with sea grass so we had to get it raised up and reset.
Fortunately it was the middle of the day. Fortunately it had stopped raining. Unfortunately we were unable to reset the anchor. We tried several times and eventually Gary said we will just idle into the wind till the squall settled. Ahmmmm ….the squall was forecasted to last 2 days so that was NOT an option. At last as we tried again our anchor stayed put. In addition we decided to let out about 140 feet of chain .The winds were crazy, a fellow boater said he measured 37 knot winds at times, about 44mph(70kmph). The waves were crashing round us and the protective bay was churned up with white caps. I would have hated to be out in the open water. We were safe and protected but a little uncomfortable.
We met Pierce off SV Wabi Sabi and he was kind enough to share the weather forecast with us
21st of December was my father s birthday and it is also the day Gary’s dad passed away. As the boat rocked and bounced in the wind and waves we spent a lot of time talking about them and our memories of them. Later we decided to do anchor watch through the night. We took turns in sleeping and staying up watching that we don’t drag again.
Anchor watch, as I do it, works like this: Find an object i.e. a light from another boat (at night) and make sure you keep that light in sight as you swing on the anchor. Staying up alone in the dark at anchor watch was a new experience for me. My first watch was very spiritual, I thought of people who I have loved and sent love out into the strong wind, hoping it would find them, I sent forgiveness out to those who have hurt me and I embraced the wind and waves and felt not fear. Sounds stupid hey, but it was a very cool experience.
The second watch I lost my mind….I had a nursery rhyme in my head but couldn’t remember the whole thing so it was driving me crazy……the one about black birds baked in a pie……( If anyone knows it, please email it to me, I still can’t remember the whole thing!!)
My third watch I just did a lot of “day dreaming “and was very tired. Eating little bites of chocolate to and sipping on pop for the caffeine to stay awake.
December 22, 2012
The day dawned with promise of winds calming down and by mid-day it was nice enough to get in the dink and go to shore for some more exploring.
Gary strung the Christmas lights up and we sang Oh Christmas Tree over the VHF to SV Last Waltz.
After a long night and day we found ourselves in bed at 630pm, yes, 630!! We were both tired and it was dark so we figured why not. We both must have been asleep by 7pm. We are such night owls!!
Decmber 23, 2012 Sunday
Today we made it as far as Fox Town a tiny little hamlet full of friendly locals and a bar that sells cracked conch and has internet. So here I am in the middle of paradise with my battery almost dead posting this blog, hope you appreciate it!!
THIS IS THE ONLY PICTURE THAT WOULD LOAD, I WILL LOAD MORE WHEN I HAVE BETTER INTERNET , SORRY
..............to be continued........
Mangrove Cay just a bunch of mangroves growing in a muddy marsh but a safe
haven for a boater to stay for the night, It gives minimum protection but
even a little is better than none.