So what makes a perfect sailing day? We find one on the way to Hatchet Bay.
Start: Anchorage, Governors Harbor, Eleuthera Island, 0934
End: Anchorage, Hatchet Bay, Alice Town, Eleuthera Island, 1255
Total Distance: 17.2 nm
Average Speed: 5.1 kts
Weather. We love/hate/have mad respect for weather. Which is why we are leaving Governor’s harbor after only one day (less than 24 hours) and heading towards a more protected anchorage. Because in the next 24-72 hours we will get some strong west winds and those are bad news in this particular part of the Bahamas. Hatchet Bay is our destination. It is a small bay that is protected from west winds (heck all winds for that matter), though according to Active Captain, holding is a bit sketchy. So we plan on getting there a bit early to get settled. If holding stinks, we can find out on Tuesday with a day to react.
Forecast for today is benign. Tending towards not great. Or meh. Winds from the south(ish) at a whopping two (count ‘em, two) knots. A caress on your cheek. Less than a sneeze. More than a cough. And no waves. We are resigned to our motors pushing us through the water for the short 16 mile trip. We awake, I take lucky to the dinghy dock,1 we explore the town, then back to the boat. Breakfast, dinghy up and by 0930 we are pulling up the anchor and heading out to the WNW on our way to Hatchet Bay.
Irish Rose, a monohull kid boat (who we met in Georgetown) is just ahead of us as we head out–we are both going to the same place. They have their sails up–and since they are a ketch, they have a LOT of sails–and are looking good. We putter out of the bay, head up into the wind and put up our main and then our genoa. Both sails, surprisingly, fill and it turns out the forecast was incorrect. We don’t have two knots of wind–more along the lines of 6 knots. Maybe a bit more. Not blowing to beat the band, but a wind none the less.
We shut off one engine, and keep the other turning slowly and have a short discussion. Wind is light, off our beam. With the genoa and main we are only doing 4ish knots (at best). How about the screecher? It hasn’t been up in awhile and needs some quick TLC, but the conditions are so benign, why not give it a whirl? So we do. We park AJ at the wheel and tell him to please not hit Irish Rose (who we are slowly passing while we dork with the sails). Jan and I head up front and get the screecher, unused in a long time, back in working order.2 Unfurled. Tightened. Trimmed. We turn off the one engine, pull up and damned if we aren’t sailing. Like 5 knots in an 8 knot wind. Which is excellent. Our motor day turned into a beautiful sailing day. Like a perfect sailing day.3
Which makes us wonder what makes a perfect sailing day. Feel free to skip past this if you own a trawler or RV or could give two hoots about sailing.
Our hastily put together thoughts on what makes it a perfect sailing day:
1. All sails up.
2. Little or no waves. Or if they are big, they are following.
3. Sunny skies–no rain! Preferably warm. But not hot.
4. Sailed over 90% of trip.
5. Maintained line without mechanical assistance (*cough engine *cough)
And not necessary but certainly desirable is passing at least one boat.
Back to the day.
We arrive at Hatchet Bay just afternoon. It is a relatively small bay accessed by what seems to be an extremely narrow cut in the rocks. We fit just fine and enter the harbor where there are five other boats anchored with room for plenty more. Before the dark tomorrow there will be close to 20 boats retreating from the west wind.
Since we know that the only other boat in sight was Irish Rose, we know we have a lot of time to find an anchorage so we tour the harbor and decide to go over to the west side. We find a patch of bright ground, which is the past has signified ‘sand,’ which is ‘good,’ and drop the anchor. Back the boat down and we drag a bit before we catch. Maybe not so good. So I don my snorkel gear and head down for a look. The bright patch is indeed sand, but only an inch covering hard limestone. This won’t work. While in the water I explore and find a patch of grass/mud and we lift and redrop anchor there. We hold. And we are set for at least two, if not three days, before we continue on our way. Three days to explore the throbbing metropolis of Alicetown and the local area. And a couple days of kid time for AJ. Sounds like a winner!
1The dinghy dock in Governors harbor blows. You would think with all the money in town they could put out a little scratch and dig a freaking channel to the stairs. But no. We were about half way between low and high tide and I was dragging the damn dinghy a country mile across one inch water to get close to shore. Lucky was going bananas and finally jumped out of the dinghy and sprinted across the shallow water to shore. I threw out the anchor and waded to shore. And of course on the way the water went from one inch to thee feet and back to one inch.
2The issue is not with the screecher, per se, but with the brake we use on the lines back by the nav station. Three lines come into the brake–the main and screecher halyard and the topping lift. When we replaced the main halyard, the brake ceased to be able to stop the main halyard. We have tried to get it to hold, but no luck and it is on our list of stuff to do when we get back home. In the meantime, since we like really need our main, we moved the main halyard over to the screecher brake and put the screecher halyard up by the mast. When we did that, we lost some tension on the halyard and our screecher is ‘saggy.’ That is nautical for ‘looks like crap.’ And since it is saggy, the roller furler tends to bind when we use the sail. So our job this morning is to rerun the screecher line back to the nav station, but put it in the main halyard brake. This means that the lines will be crossed and we know from Ghostbusters that it is BAD to cross streams/lines. So at the mast we put a buckle onto the screecher line block that gives the line separation (vertically) from the main halyard. We do that, run the line back, tighten the line and the screecher is no longer ‘saggy.’ Then run the sheet back to the block on the starboard side and pull out the sail. Everything holds, furler is working, sail looks great and we are on our way!!
3I realize that Mark has just spit coffee from his mouth onto his computer monitor and is rolling his eyes. Suffer, Mark, suffer.