Quote of the day (from Jan) who uttered these words while we were banging away south towards Nassau:
“Why is it that our crossings keep getting worse and worse?”
A deep and profound question. Which we had what seemed like an eternity to contemplate as we made our way out of the Berries and (we hoped) all the way to the Exumas over two days.
Start: Anchorage behind Little Harbour Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas 0857
End: Rose Cay, just outside Nassau, 1709
Total Distance: 43.5 nm
Average Speed: 5.3 kts
Start: Rose Cay, just outside Nassau, 0715
End: Highbourne Cay Marina, 1411
Total Distance: 34 nm
Average Speed: 4.8 kts
And we didn’t die. Not even close. The executive summary of the trip on the first for those of you stuck at work (and if your boss asks what you are doing, tell her/him you are reading an EXSUM. Sounds important):
- Our depth finder did crap the bed (and the saying ‘crap the bed’ just isn’t as funny as it used to be for some reason) about an hour into the trip, and revived himself just before we anchored.
- The cat crawled underneath a step stool in the back room and refused to come out.
- The dog and AJ laid on the couches in the salon all day long. One moaned, one slept.
- Andy the Autopilot got a break for most of the trip–he couldn’t hold a course in the waves.
- We made it to Nassau. Or rather an anchorage within sight of Nassau, which given the crime in the city, is good enough. And good enough to get us to our next stop, the Exumas, the following day.
The longer version of our day:
One of us (moi) didn’t sleep for crap last night. Couple of reasons.
First was I was nursing my wounds from my Minnesota Viking’s failing to field a defense in the NFC championship game. You would think that someone would have checked the plane to make sure there were all 22 players on board, not just the 11 from the offensive side.
Second was stressing about crossing given the fact that last time we tried we got our butt’s spanked and had to go back to where we came from.
And I had a recurring dream that our anchor was slipping and we were winging our way across the flats to be driven up onto Florida in a horrible accident. Even though the anchor had been in place for TWO DAYS!
So at 0500 I was up and at 0630 Jan and I were listening to the weather report. All systems were green. We were ready to go. Except that we couldn’t leave much before 0900. We had gotten into our anchorage at high tide and saw 5 feet of water under our boat on the way to our coveted spot. Low tide was three feet lower and so we would be dragging our boat through the sand to get out. So we needed to wait for high(er) tide.
Which we did. At 0857 the anchor came up (well set, by the way) and we headed out. Very, very slowly. Jan and AJ were posted at the bow to look for shallow water. Until AJ got bored and then Jan was posted at the bow and AJ was back with me chattering away using some of his 10,000 daily words. He got told to zip it.
Bottom line is we made it out without getting stuck or without hitting any coral. BOOYAH! High fives and celebrations until we realize that now we need to go out into the big, bad ocean. Again. And last time we did this the ocean won, we lost, game over.
Again, we were going out when the wind and tidal flow agreed with each other (preferred). They were both against us, but slow and smooth is the way we like it. The wind today was almost directly East, maybe a bit south of east so no sailing today–this would be a motor sail. We threw out the genoa, revved up the engines and we were smoking along at 5 knots. Into some big a$$ed waves. Again.
This time we held on. Put our big boy and big girl pants on and said ‘screw it.’ We got this. And slammed though the waves.
Which is when Jan asked the question on why the heck our crossings seem to get worse and worse each and every time. Why can’t we get these things right.
What followed was two hours of serious misery. Those first hours we were in sight of land and knew if we turned around all would be well. Followed by two hours of slightly less pain. Followed by two hours where we could actually begin to talk to each other without yelling. Followed by an almost pleasant two hours.
Which brings us to where we are at right now. Rose Island. Just a couple miles to the east of Nassau. Look at your nice glossy picture of “Atlantis” in Nassau. We aren’t there. You have to look East. Off the island, past the pretty parks and $250/night hotels. Into the water. Find a little spit of land. We are on the south side of that spit. Rolling around in the wind and waves and waiting until morning to head south. Our boat is covered in salt water, both inside and out. So much so that Jan is walking around the inside of our boat with paper towels under her feet because the floor is wet with all the humidity.
We were the third boat in anchorage and two more followed us in. Both of the last two boats were with us in Great Harbour Key a week ago–it is a small world. Lucky, AJ and I went to shore while Jan recovered the boat. Then dinner and we were in the sack by 2030.
The next morning the alarm went off at 0600 and Lucky and I made our way to the island just as the eastern sky was getting light. We had started to bounce a bit at midnight last night when the wind shifted and it was now coming from the SE which is the way we are heading. But speeds were less than 12 knots and would die down as the day progressed. No sailing–motors could carry the load. We listened to the weather at 0630; good for today and tomorrow but ugly later in the week.
At 7ish we left anchorage in a line of four boats. Two of us headed south, two north. Our plan was to head to Highborn Cay, our first stop and one of the northern islands in the Exumas.
The Exuma Islands is a district in Bahamas that consists over over 365 islands (or cays) spread out over 130 miles. There are just under 7,000 people who live in the Exumas, almost 1,500 of which live in Georgetown, the capital city. That is our ultimate destination, but we will take a couple of weeks to explore the islands, white sand beaches and good snorkeling grounds.
But first, we have to get there. The trip today should be mostly benign (and remember, that is my middle name). For the first three-four hours we are in 20+ feet of blue water. Then about lunch time we cross over the Yellow Bank. The depth goes to 10-14 feet and we will move through a field of coral heads. That will last an hour or so, then back to 20+ feet of water all the way to Highbourne. When we get to the Yellow Bank, Jan moves to the front of the boat to look for coral heads. She scratches her head, looks about, shrugs her shoulders and then turns to look again and I could see her eyeballs popping out of her head from the back. She found one, pointed to it, we moved and as we passed on by, it looked like an enormous black mound in the water. No problem seeing those babies! It didn’t appear that they were so shallow to cause us issues, but we went ahead and moved around the ones in our path and when complete, Jan came on back.
Autopilot on. Motors running. Teeny little waves rocking us. Sun out. Life just doesn’t get much better.
Since we had a couple more hours to go to Highbourne Cay, AJ and I decided to throw out a trolling line and see if we could catch a fish. Part of the $300 we paid to enter the Bahamas goes to a fishing license. Since we paid for it, we might as well use it! We pulled our our trolling rod (which we got from a dude in Maryland for free), our magic lure (which we got from Don when we visited in Wisconsin and which he used to catch a Mahi) and threw the whole mess into the water. Or rather, just the lure. Let out some line, put a clothes pin clip on the line and attached it to our lifelines in the back and forgot about it.
Lunch was made, consumed. And we watched Highbourne Cay first appear on the horizon, then grow larger and larger as we drew closer. About the time we started to think about bringing in our fishing line is about the time we heard the ‘snap’ as the clothes pin gave way and the line spun out the reel. WE GOT A FISH!
Just so everyone is clear–we have no earthly idea what to do with a fish when we catch one. Which would appear to be now. I mean we can presumably get it aboard our boat, but at that point there is going to be some awkward stare-down going on between the fish and us. The last time I cleaned a fish was never, though I saw one cleaned way back when I was in the single digits of age. Jan? Same. So this was going to be fun.
It was an epic battle. Straining, swearing, pulling, running, sweating. And that was to get the fishing pole free of where I had jammed it to prevent it from going overboard. Once I actually got the pole in hand, we got to bring the fish on the boat. After we slowed down. Best we can figure out, it was a small Kingfish. Say a ‘prince’ fish. And his royal highness was not happy about being taken out of the water. We got some pictures, took out the hook and let the thing go. And made a note to ourselves to figure out the whole ‘cleaning’ thing once we got to Highbourne Cay.
Speaking of. We have called the Highbourne Cay Marina and they have a spot for us, so we decide to go ahead and head on into the marina to wait out the big blow that is due in two days. We could anchor out and save some money (because the marina and the whole island is a swanky place), BUT the winds are forecasted to be in at 30 knots gusting to 40s. And we have been in 30 knot winds before and if you asked us then “Would you pay $100 to get out of the wind/waves and into a marina?” the answer would have been a loud and resounding YES!!
So that is where we ended the day. In the Exuma Islands. On Highbourne Cay. Time to start to explore!