The Details

On Dec 22nd, we departed Peck Lake, as early as possible. As it was Friday and a holiday weekend, we expected the waterways to get busy in the afternoon. There are seven opening bridges between Peck Lake and our anchorage near the entrance to West Palm Beach. And each bridge is on a different schedule of openings. The challenge is to try to get between them with the correct timing, so as you don’t have to wait a half hour for the next opening. And, of course, the current is against us.

Finally, we dropped anchor south of Peanut Island and began to make preparations for the crossing. I cooked some hard boiled eggs and made up some salmon for sandwiches. Murray checked the engine and alternator belt alignment.

Saturday dawned with grey skies and the wind in the wrong direction. Was the weather report wrong? We were in a quandary and the radio calls between boats indicated that we were not the only ones. Finally a rain squall went trough and the winds changed to the predicted direction. Quickly we pulled the dinghy onto the deck and headed out the inlet.

With the outgoing tide against the on-shore wind, the inlet was ugly. Square waves bashed us for about a mile and then settled down somewhat. The boat tucked into a close-haul and we were trucking. The boat was heeled over ( leaned over ) 20 to 25 to 30 degrees and my “house” down belowdecks wasn’t faring to well. Once the bookcase threw its extra cards and books on the floor and the throw cushions from the starboard settee joined them, things settled down somewhat. But, I don’t move around much in those conditions.

With the wind blowing from the southeast, we weren’t able to head to the Berry Islands, so changed plans our destination to Lucaya, Grand Bahamas. We dodged a few ships but the crossing was quite quiet. As we were under full sail, with no engine runing, we had to hand steer the whole way. You see, the autopilot takes too much power. The wind continued and we arrived at the entrance to Lucaya at 0400. Low tide. There is not a lot of water in their entrance but a vessel ahead reassured us that we would find enough water. When we turned on the engine, it was not pumping cooling water. Shut down quick! Now, we sail in. Between the markers, around the corners, drift past the marina and drop anchor under sail. Whew! A job for the morning to check out the cooling system.

In the morning, the engine pumped water fine (wouldn’t you know!) and we motored to our slip. Customs and immigration were handled quickly and then it is time for brunch. The afternoon was spent dozing by the pool.

Christmas Day was hot and muggy. A celebration dinner was laid out on the pool deck with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, plus Bahamian favourites like peas and rice , macaroni and cheese. Rum cake was served for dessert. Friends shared our table and enjoyed the spread.

Boxing Day we awoke to rain that varied from a deluge to a patter. When the skies cleared, we left the marina ( $64/ day ) and anchored nearby. Our alarm went off at 0600 on the 27th. We hauled anchor and sailed ( again! ) all the way to Great Stirrup Cay, at the top of the Berry Island chain. It was a lumpy anchorage and we left again early the next morning to motorsail 20 miles south to Hoffman Cay. This is a good spot to unwind.

The wind is predicted to blow hard for the next few days, so we will remain here. Murray is in his element, catching fish one after the other from the cockpit. I enjoy the beach walks and shelling nearby. We had our first dive of the season yesterday and bagged a lobster and a conch. The new knee seems to work just fine with fins and climbing into the dinghy.

Last night, we organized the first beach cocktail party of our winter and all of the boats anchored nearby attended. Now, what to do for New Year’s Eve….?

Hopefully your holiday season has been full of fun with family and friends nearby. Take care of each other and best wishes for 2007.

Hugs, Murray & Heather