Thought I should bring you all up-to-date on the happenings for the last month. When last I wrote, we were ready to leave Vero Beach, FL .
We spent one night in Peck Lake and then proceeded to Lake Worth, accompanied by Southern Cross ( with Karen & Marcel aboard ). In Lake Worth, we met another vessel from last year – Veruna from Montreal with Bob & Viv aboard. The reunion was great fun! As we all had the same plan to head for the Bahamas, a fleet was formed.
Another vessel – Ariel with Jeff and Terry aboard – joined our little group and we all listened to Herb ( the weather guru ) and collected weather fax. After a couple of days, a window seemed to appear. Last minute stores were gotten from the grocery. Murray wasn’t sure he had quite enough beer for 4 months, so additional boxes were lining the floor of the salon. Along with more of the best wines that can be bought in cardboard! The dinghy was lifted, meals prepared and we are ready.
The next morning at noon was our planned departure time ( to make landfall in daylight ), forgetting that it was Sunday. Every boat in south Florida was out on the waterway! By the time we reached the inlet to the sea, we were almost sick from the wakes. The wind is howling in the rigging – is this a good sign? But, out we go. The first couple of miles were terrible with wind against current creating square Lake Erie-like waves. But eventually it calms down and on we sail.
Of the fleet of four, we are the only vessel sailing. The rest motorsail. The Gulf Stream carries us north further than we want, but the wind is supposed to clock. As the sun sets, we enjoy a lovely dinner in the cockpit. One of the group remarks on the radio – ” this is the best crossing ever, a piece of cake “. Well, the wind gods were listening.
The wind picks up, but we reef and sail on. It picks up more, but on we sail. Finally we roll up all of the jib and continue to sail only on the reefed main. Now the wind is reported to be at 50 knots. The seas are constantly dumping in the cockpit and we are drenched. As our destination was to windward, we dropped the main and motored on.
The island of Grand Bahama has been in view for hours but, with the wind howling, we are unsure if we can enter the harbour at Lucaya. The other three vessels have turned back and asked for a harbour of refuge at the commercial port of Freeport. Out of the rain and salt spray, we see the outer buoy at Lucaya. When Murray turns onto the course to enter, we are pooped by a wave. The cockpit is full but drains very quickly. The huge waves give us a sleigh ride between the reefs and finally we are into calm water inside the harbour.
After three days the weather settled enough and our friends were able to join us at the marina and share with us their experiences in Freeport. Much beer and rum were shared as well as stories of ‘the night’ .But, finally it was time to leave this lovely place. Check the weather, listen to Herb and off we go again accompanied by Veruna. At midnight we picked our way out of the harbour, through the buoys and into deep water again. It was a lovely night of motorsailing towards the Berry Islands. At dawn, Murray put his fishing line in the water and soon ‘ fish reports’ were heard on the radio. Both boats caught fish.
Landfall was made at Bullocks Harbour, by Grand Harbour Cay. After a couple of days, we sailed down to Little Harbour Cay. More fish for the freezer. There we snorkeled and shelled and explored and relaxed. The wind is from the right direction – on we sail to Nassau. Except when we can’t quite make the course, we change destinations and sail to Old Fort Bay, on New Providence. That is 9 miles west of Nassau and a gorgeous bay with a beautiful sand beach. More snorkeling, shelling and exploring.
But, early Wed am, the wind switched around and we were on a lee shore. Time to head for Nassau. Which is where we are now. The Yachtsmans Lunch is today and the Yacht Club is hosting a party tonight with free drinks and snacks. So, I think we timed this perfectly.
Jeremy and Cynthia arrive here Sat and will be aboard for 10 days. So, the plans are to visit the Exuma chain for a while and then head to the Abacos, arriving back in the US by late April.
The memory of the passage is already fading, being replaced by days of glorious sun and lovely beaches. Was it worth it – yes! But, I hope the next crossing is better.
Hugs to all,
Heather & Murray Heather & Murray Rand
aboard Windswept IV
Ham Radio VE3 ZUA