Well we lived through the trip!! And had a fantastic time, so much so we are returning to put the house on the market and become full time livaboards.
We did alot of sailing and learned more about sailing our boat than we had for the previous three years. We sailed in about every condition possible. And learned how to get the most out of the boat while keeping the crew comfortable and safe.
There were very good times and very sad times, but over all it was a fantastic trip. And now we have plenty of places to explore and re-visit. The only thing bad about all the sailing was that we did not get a chance to do as much diving and photography as usual so all those places await under water exploration!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Georgetown to Cat Island
Well it is Easter today, so Happy Easter to all.
When we left Georgetown, we headed for Long Island, which is a long (thus the name) but rather narrow. It has a couple of small resorts on it, one on the north and one centrally located. The winds were 15-20 out of the south with 5-7 SE swell with some wind wave on top. I told Diane the rest of our trip we will be heading northwest so the swell will be following us. Never predict the weather to your wife!!!!!!!!!
We anchored between the yellow and white houses (real chart points), which are a mile or two apart. The winds had been picking up but were clocking around to the east so we had a couple of nice nights and did some nice snorkeling.
Our next stop was to be Rum Cay, but the weather was not sounding good. It was predicted to keep clocking around to the NE so Rum was not sounding good. As I wanted to anchor up at Flamingo Bay. But it provided no protection from the north.
When we pulled the hook and cleared Cape Santa Maria (named for Columbus’ ship that went aground), the seas were 8-12 and out of the east. Of course Rum was due east. So change of course and we are headed for Conception Island. It offered protection from the North and east.
A very good decision by the captain J. There was a fantastic beach, reefs surrounding the island for snorkeling, and the clearest water we have seen. It is literally as clean as drinking water.
We drop the hook south of the other three boats anchored here, about a mile between us.
It is a truly beautiful spot!
Well the weather guru was correct. The wind continues to clock to the east and continues to get stronger. At the same time seas have switched around to a LARGE northeasterly swell. Two boats leave and we tuck in behind a large bluff next to the only boat left.
The wind finally starts to hit thirty knots kind of regular and the swells can be seen on the horizon (12 foot) with the wind blowing the tops off the waves. Basically white caps as far as the eye (and binoculars) can see.
But we had great holding here so here we stayed. Before it got nasty I was able to catch a couple of fish off the reefs and we do a lot of beach combing.
While here we meet a very nice couple on a ketch rig named “Mi Lady”. They are from Beaufort, NC; on board is Norma and Jim. We spend the next five or six days here. We find out that Jim really hates clothes. He even fishes naked J. He was afraid he might offend us, Diane tells him “she doesn’t give a shit if he barks at the moon”. After a few days we have bonded and became good friends.
Finally the seas start to calm a bit so we go in a small creek that leads to the inside of the island. Which is a huge shallow marsh. And the creek is full of sea turtles cavorting around. It was kewl watching them.
With the wind and seas dieing down I was able to get outside for some fantastic snorkeling. I was visited by a couple of six-foot barracudas and a ten-foot nurse shark, among the notables.
Well as much as we don’t want to leave we must to get the right weather window for heading northwest to Cat Cay, our next stop.
It is our last night and Jim has tried as hard as he can to talk us into nudity. But no thanks for Diane and I. But he keeps trying. So as he is heading to his boat in his dingy Diane and I both get up on the bow and strip naked and do the “Geronimo Dance” from the movie Wind. Basically just to freak him out, and it worked. You could hear Norma and him laughing from their boat.
Well it is Easter and we must part. We had our good-bye dinner last night and both boats pull anchor this morning and head our own ways.
We have a 35-mile trip to Cat Cay. The winds are non-existent and the seas are a gentle 3-5 foot swell with a 5 second interval from the east (quartering).
I fished all the way but nothing. Even on a spot in the middle of 2000-3000 feet of water that comes up to 50 feet deep for an acre or two.
We are anchored north of Hawks’ Nest on Cat Cay and heading to Little San Salvador tomorrow. Then Eleuthera, then Abacos and civilization (some what). Abacos even have a grocery store and Internet. So we will make contact then. J J J
Cat to Marsh Harbor
4-16 to 4-23
Well we have made it to Marsh Harbor, Abaco. The trip has been pretty much uneventful. We sailed from Conception to Cat, then Little San Salvador, then to Eleuthera.
The sail over to Cat was a very nice sail with the wind being about 10 knts. We fished all the way with little luck except barracudas. Diane caught one large enough to break her pole. Her expression when the top half of her pole was sliding down the line and her reeling with a very short pole was priceless, But she land the fish. We anchored around behind Hawk’s Nest in nice white sand.
The next morning we shove off for Little San Salvador Island. The winds are predicted to clock around to the west. Cat has few if any real anchorages with protection from that direction. So heading for Little San Salvador is the plan. We will anchor on the eastern side for protection. The sail across is another day of nice sailing. When we get close I crank the engine for more control. As getting to the eastern side is shallow and strewn with reefs. We weave our way through the reefs with no bumps. But just as we are clearing the reefs at the southern end, Diane hooks up with a large “horse eyed jack”. But a shark also wants the fish; it is a race that Diane wins over the shark. We pull in within about 100 feet of the beach and settle in.
The wind does clock to the west, and then to the northwest. So we pull anchor and tuck in off the very end of the island. It is calm and provides a good spot for me to do some fish hunting from the boat. No luck but still a good time.
We head for Eleuthera in the morning. I have plotted a course to follow the wall contour between 3k deep and 100 feet deep for fishing. But nothing but another barracuda, it seems no one is catching anything.
We are in need of water and fuel so we head for Cape Eleuthera Marina. It is owned and operated by two of the sweetest ladies we have had the pleasure to meet. While fueling Diane meets the resident nurse shark, which is confirmed to be almost 20 ft long. The stop goes well and we head for Rock Sound for groceries and two-night s rest. There is a nice grocery store for supplies within in walking distance. And they give us a ride back with all the stuff we bought.
From here we head for Current Cut. It is great sailing on a strong broad reach. We are sailing with a couple on S/V "Scot Free". We hit the cut perfectly at slack tide to avoid the 3 knt current. We anchor on the other side up close to the beach. Next we plan on going from there to Royal Island for the night and then head for Abacos.
Royal is a quiet spot for the night with about 8 other boats. We will head out early for the crossing to Little Harbor in the morning.
The crossing from Egg to Little harbor is 77 nautical miles, an all day affair. There is little to no wind but a following sea. And again no fish, for “Scot Free” or us. We arrive Little Harbor earlier than expected by about an hour, so we ease up to North Bar Cut.
When we make the cut we decide we can make Marsh before dark if we use the short cut via Sugar Loaf creek.
We bounce gently but continue on and make Marsh just as the sun is setting.
Marsh Harbor to Fort George
5-2 to 5-10
Well the stay in Marsh was longer than planned.
When we got there we met up with good friends Roy and Diane on “Molly Bloom”, which is also a Lagoon 37. Roy is a walking Lagoon expert, so time spent with him is like going to school.
It seems a cold front is expected and the winds are predicted to be strong with it’s passage. So we decide to wait it out there, holding is good and it is time well spent. While we were there we volunteered to anchor the cruiser’s net, Patti (fulltime anchor) deserves a break. And we really enjoy doing it!!!!!!!
The wind finally begins to ease so we decide to try the “Don’t Rock” passage, as the “Whale Passage” is still raging. Unfortunately as we get close enough to glass the region, there is 3-4 foot BREAKING seas in 5 feet of water, not doable!! So off to Baker’s Bay we go. The next morning we are still hearing radio reports of treacherous conditions so we spend another at Baker’s, it could be worse.
We get a window the next day and head for Manjack Cay. Roy and Diane are in Green Turtle Cay and want to hook up for the sail back. So we spend the night at the southern anchorage.
Up and out early heading for Great Sale Cay. The winds are out of the northerly quadrant and predicted to clock to the west over night. So the anchorage on the eastern side should be nice. BUT, the wind clocks to the east so it was a little bouncy.
Roy and I decide rather than sailing from here to St. Lucie we should stage at Mangrove Cay, so we motor sail over to there.
We leave Mangrove at 0300, for the 96-mile trip to Stuart. The wind is light so we are motor sailing. Then we hit the stream and the wind picks up to 10-15, but finally out of the west. So if I sail the corrected course we are able to have a nice close-hauled sail. By the time we hit the coast the seas have picked up to 5-7 with a steady 15-20. We are surfing and sailing our butts off.
It was a bit rough coming in so I leave the main up and drop the headsail. I had no idea there would be a zillion boats just inside. But we catch some wind and I am about to eat Roy’s stern and no place to dodge. I ease the sheet to dump some wind and all is well. Except for the speedboats and RUDE people.
We get to the mooring field and this is home for a couple of nights. But we know we need to be in safe port by Thursday and this is Sunday.
It is an easy overnighter from here to St. Augustine so off we go Tuesday mid morning. We pick up the stream and west winds and it is a quick sail up the coast following the 100-fathom line. We make good enough time I decide to stay outside as long as possible and go for St. Mary’s. The weather changes a bit quicker than predicted and the wind clocks to the north so it is time to get out of the stream. We are about 45 miles due east of St. Augustine, but the seas are dead on the nose and real uncomfortable direction. So I bear off and make for May port. The wind continues clocking with head seas at times we are making 1.5-2 knts SOG. So it is a slow trek in. Then just as we clear the Naval base the sky opens up and drowns me, I need to drop the anchor soon!!!!!!! Timing is good tide wise and we make it up to Fort George for the night. 35.5 hours and 249 miles!!!!!!!
Lessons come hard
We decided to ease up the ICW from Ft. George to Fernandina. We drop the
hook a we are safe for the night
Well we are sailing a rhumb line to North Edisto River. It was a beautiful day,
we are catching fish and life is large.
The day turned into night and the good life continues. Full moon, 10-15 on
a nice broad reach. I take over the night watch and think I don’t need to throw
a reef in, as I usually do! The nice ride continues until about 0400. I decide to
take a quick catnap while Otto handles the helm. Well a weird feel to the boat
awakens me. The wind has piped up to20-25 and the seas are building!
Before I can wake up fully the winds are 25-30, and we are still under full sails!!!
I try to turn into the wind to drop the sails, the head sail backs and there is not
enough power to power into the wind. So I run up front and open the halyard
lock and run back before Otto lets go. I turn away from the wind, but we are
going way too fast surfing and sailing.I let the jib sheets go and finally get the
headsail furled. But in the process we jibe a couple of times. Shit is flying around
and we are getting beat up. The loose main halyard finally drops some and
de-powers and I again have control of the boat. The seas are now 7-9 but
on the stern so they are also controllable. Keep in mind all this happens in
about 30 minutes and the last ten miles of a 146-mile trip.