The Ides of March

I hadn’t noted the date that morning or perhaps I wouldn’t have been talked out of my bed quite so easily. We were anchored in Royal Island and planned to sail at first light, heading to the Abacos. But, during the night the wind had started to sing through the rigging. When the alarm went off at 5:45 am, we looked at each other and said “Maybe tomorrow”. A short time later we spoke to friends who were underway already and they reported that the seas were fine. So….. we grabbed our clothes and hauled anchor. We powered through between the Egg Islands and into the North East Providence Channel with a glimpse of two sailboats off in the distance ahead of us.

The Channel was busy with freighter and cruise ship traffic but none of them came close to us. Other than the three sailing vessels, we saw only one other pleasure boat during our passage. Murray had the fishing line out for the complete trip but not a nibble. The seas were very confused, as is usual with this area. The winds were from the south east at 15 knots but the waves seemed to come from two directions – east as well as southeast. The boat tossed and rolled. Murray saw the heel indicator show 15 degrees on one side, then right over to 20 degrees on the opposite side. In the hurry to depart, I had neglected to take any anti-nausea medication. So, my stomach was not really happy with the conditions but as long as I stayed above decks, I was ok.

When we were within 20 miles from our goal, the sky over the land to the west of us began to darken. The clouds took on an ominous appearance. Then, was that thunder? When the sound came again we were positive it was thunder. The lightning flashes followed soon afterwards, but seemed a long ways off yet. We told ourselves that the storm was following the land and that the sky was still clear above us. That didn’t last too long. Soon the sky was dark everywhere and lightning flashes surrounded us. When one flash was immediately followed by the crash of thunder, we both jumped. Rain pelted down and the wind picked up. Luckily, we had rolled up the headsail and had only the main up at this time.

All in all, we went through four squalls before we entered between the reefs at Little Harbour, Abaco. Other than a little wet and cold, we were in fine shape. Visibility at times had been hampered but it cleared enough when we needed it to safely navigate into the protection of the islands of the Abacos. We motored a short distance and dropped the anchor for the night just before 5 pm. Double rations of grog for the whole crew that night.

Yesterday, we snorkeled some and found a few conch. I walked the beach picking up shells while Murray cleaned them. Everyone had departed from our anchorage and we enjoyed the solitude. The squalls are still marching through now and then, rinsing the decks with fresh water and shortening our radio use with the crashes of lightning. But the skies cleared and we were blessed with a perfect complete rainbow nearby. Today the wind has been honking and we will stay put once again. But soon we will have to venture into the crowded Marsh Harbour to meet old friends, do laundry in a machine again and maybe get some fresh veggies. I stocked the boat so completely this year that all we have had to purchase so far has been tomatoes, green peppers and lettuce.

The Abacos will keep us under its spell for a few weeks and then we will start to wend our way further north and prepare to cross into the US once again. We hope all is well with everyone up north and that spring will be showing its face soon.

Hugs to all, Murray & Heather