Sunday, February 15, 2015

We did it!

With the exception of the kids and Facebook friends, we have kind of vanished. Like us, the Wifi has vanished as well. Some peeps on Facebook kind of sort of know whats going on but the rest of you just reading the blog are a bit out of touch. So, let's get updated.

Way back on the Monday the 9th of February at about 1AM we left No Room, I mean No Name Harbor, and proceeded to cross the Gulf Stream with many boats. We had very little wind and what we did have was on the nose. We released carbon emissions into the atmosphere the whole way there and arrived at the Bimini entrance about 9AM. We caught up to the pack that had left about midnight and I was asked if I would like to lead them in. What? Um, uh, golly gee I uh...NO! So I didn't man up and I let Tammy from Dos Libras plow a path. I know I know. Hey, its a dog eat dog world. If she got hung up on a shoal I'm sure we would fret about it and try to help her and Bruce from the nearest bar. They would do the same for me. We did witness a rescue off the shoal at the entrance to Bimini. Some poor bastard hit one of the channel markers in pretty rough seas. I saw this guy out in the channel and I thought he was heading out, then I thought he was heading in. Maybe he changed his mind. Then
a few
of us were looking at him and that's when we realized he was in trouble. A local fishing boat went out to tow the guy in. He lost his steering and apparently slammed into the channel marker, cracking the bow and almost losing his head stay. We got him securely tied to the dock and he looked completely beat and confused. Sad to witness. Just a reminder of how shit can happen out here.
In Bimini we met some pretty nice folks and had us a happy hour and a pot luck. We also took a tour of the island by golf cart. Sixteen of us rented carts and drove around. We picked up some lunch out of a mini-van and bought some coconut bread at a local baker. The women selling lunch out of the van had some awesome mac n cheese. Being our first island in the Bahamas we wanted to see it all with the exception of south Bimini which we read enough about to know its not worth the trip. We also toured the Dolphin House, which is remarkable by the fact that the builder uses cast off materials or beach trash and cements it all into the walls of the two, soon to be three story structure. The dude has some amazing skills and is fun to talk to. The second floor rooms can be rented out for one hundred a night. Looking at it from the outside you would think the rooms might be a bit trashy but they were very nice and I think it would be a neat overnight stay.
Bimini was a nice stop and I'm glad we did it. If we had waited for the perfect window to cross we would still be in Florida getting aggravated and impatient. When we left Bimini we did so at low tide. Plenty of water and believe it or not I used my eyes instead of the electronics. The navionics charts on the Raymarine e7 are worthless here. We have an iPad with Garmin charts and we reference those.
We left Bimini heading north around North Rock and onto the Banks where we dropped the hook at Makie Shoal for a nice quiet night. Ha! We woke at 1AM to three foot waves and big wind smacking us on the nose and it was almost puke bucket time there for a while. Day break had us moving on under motor and jib but the wind was right on our ass. The seas were rolling us and nobody felt like hitting the deck to unhook the whisker pole to keep the genny flying, or dealing with the main beating itself to death all day long. The folks that went south through Cat cay had a much better angle and were able to broad reach the whole way.
Our night on the banks was awesome until the blow came through. We sat and looked at the amazing sunset and the bright starry night that fell upon us. We celebrated with a Rohrbachs brew from Rochester that our kids gave us and enjoyed a nice break from traveling. Earlier we had a nice dolphin encounter that I caught a video of. It was brief but at least I have a record this time. The last vid I accidentally erased. Only problem with this vid is that you can hear my Dolphin baby talk.
We blew through the Northwest Channel without an issue and made our way to Chub Cay to refuel and take on water. The Chub Cay anchorage looked brutal in the wind we had so we bounced into the Frazer's Hog Cay anchorage but could not set the hook. It was all rock. Moving on again we popped into the Bird Cay anchorage and found a relatively good spot. Once the wind shifted to the north we had a pleasant night with two other boats. In the morning we left with many others across the Northeast Providence Channel to Rose Island, which looked to be an acceptable spot to drop the hook and hide from the strong north wind.
What a ride! We flew both sails and rocketed across on a broad to full reach sometimes hitting 9 knots down waves which were building as the day went on. We were off course but making speed and the waves were comfortable. We knew we had to jibe over and head to Rose Island at some point but we misread the wind and ended up almost close hauled trying to get there. We did this for about 14 miles and the seas were still slightly behind us so it wasn't bad at all. When we got to Hanover Sound we saw breaking waves on the shoals that looked huge! Wild sprays of sea water were rising up around us but we managed to enter without anyone screaming or filling their shorts. We are currently on the hook south of Rose Island waiting to travel in the Banks to Eleuthra. Deb is not passing up another island chain apparently. In typical guy fashion I wanted to make tracks south to the Exumas but she's right. What's the rush?
The only thing I have to stress about now is the anchor. We didn't hold in what I thought was sand and as it skipped along the bottom it suddenly grabbed. Grabbed onto coral. I really really hope we can raise the damn thing. I'm not the best swimmer and do not relish the thought of diving on it. What am I going to do, grab it with two hands and pull it out of the coral? Might have to dive down and snap a line onto the bar and use the dinghy to yank it out. I really don't know.
The journey has been pretty nice so far. We have seen some amazing things. The water color and clarity can not be described. You have to see it to believe it. If I could wish for one thing it would be for the wind to cooperate and the damn fronts would stop rolling in. It could be a tad warmer too. I have to whine a little don't I? If I let you believe that this trip is like a Disney ride, more of you would be out here and I would never find a good spot to anchor. Yesterday was a god sail but I could see that it would have been a nightmare had the winds kicked up to about 25 and the swells increased. Quite often we would fall into a swell and the land and other boats would just vanish. Nothing but water and foam around us. We had her under control and sailing nicely but too many long trips like that will ear on you and the boat. We will try to keep the passages short and sweet from here on out.
Hopefully we get to some WiFi soon so I can update with photos. We have some good ones.
So long for now.

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