In And Settled

Hello everyone,

I promised more details of the crossing and here are probably more than you might even want.

We hauled anchor in West Palm Beach on Friday 25th and headed north towards the Flagler Bridge just around 3 pm. A quick radio call informed us that the bridge was broken, unable to be opened and might remain the same for the next two hours. But luck was with us as, after a delay of only 10 minutes, the bridge opened and allowed us to go on our way. By 4 pm, we had made our way to the inlet and the sea beyond. The waves were confused, as usual, and about 4 feet high. Many fishing vessels ( 80 to 90 feet long ) roared past us, causing even more wave action.

But, after a few hours under motorsail, we were past most of the small boats and meeting freighters. One of them caused us to slow and change course to avoid a collision. The surface of the water was litter with Portuguese Man of War. From afar, they look very attractive with their blue bubble floating on the surface and their lacy “sail” raised to give them propulsion through the water. But, below the water, they are deadly. With the long tentacles hanging beneath the bubble, they wrap around any arm or leg placed nearby. The toxin in the tentacles has been know to cause cardiac arrest and/or death. Even when they are tossed onto the beach, these critters can cause pain.

By sunset, most of the land behind us was out of sight with just a few lights showing on tall buildings. It was bright even after the sun set as the full moon lit our path and showed the horizon clearly.

The route to Great Harbour Cay, in the Berry Islands,was 130 miles but our course, due to the Gulf Stream, took us about 150 miles in total. By 2:30 on Sat, we had reached Great Harbour Cay and proceeded to the marina to check in. Once the formal procedures were done, and our $300 paid, we left the marina and anchored outside the harbour just as the sun set again. It was past time for a good night’s sleep so we had a quick meal and crashed into bed.

The next morning we arose early and departed, heading for Devil’s/ Hoffman Cays about 30 miles away. Murray strung his fishing poles out and got four hits during the trip. The first fish fought hard and spit the hook just before he could land it. The second one came for dinner as did the third. But the fourth one again proved to be a challenge. It was a large, thick, tasty-looking fish that, of course, got away. Those are always the biggest. But we had more than we could eat for dinner and the freezer was very full still.

Currently we are anchored in the shallow banks, behind Hoffman Cay , with five other boats around. Two nights ago we all got together on a beach to share stories and snacks.

The captain has been very happy with the charging system this winter. The money that we spent for new batteries and solar panels was well worth every penny. It has been four days that we have been at anchor and we have not had to run the generator. The wind and solar panels have kept the batteries charged while we made water and even did some sail repairs.

At this moment, Murray is taking the toilet apart and will , hopefully, have it back together soon, working even better than before.

Our plans for the future? A cold front, with high winds expected, is to arrive later today and blow hard for the next several days. Sunday or Monday may find a break in the weather to allow us to head south on to Nassau. We need to do laundry and get some supplies as well as set up my MiFi again. I also plan to visit my book distributor there, to show him the new book and fill an order ( I hope ).

So that is what is happening aboard Windswept IV. We hope that all is well with you and yours and that you are managing to stay warm during this winter.

All the best from
Heather & Murray