Friday, March 2, 2012

Arriving Bahamas 2012

Radeen, happy ocean sailor girl,
arrives West End Bahamas by sailboat
As planned for over a year, we arrived in the Bahamas at West End, Old Bahamas Bay Marina and Resort on March 1, 2012! The crossing over from Miami, Government Cut inlet, is 85 miles to West End. We hoisted our mainsail at 0200 hrs just off anchor behind Fisher Island, and we rolled out a full 135% Genoa/Jib at the sea buoy. After an hour of powering out the inlet in the dark, along with one of our buddy boats IP37 Dragon's Toy, and we turned off the motor and set sail for a course EAST. The Miami skyline disappeared off our stern in the dark. We dodged one container ship named PAGO, who kindly altered course to starboard so we could pass port to port.

Close Hauled with full sails to the Bahamas



The sailing was close hauled, 55 degrees off the starboard bow because we needed to set a course of 70 degrees for a destination bearing 55 degrees due to the set and drift effect of the 3 knot north flowing Gulf Stream, called the Florida Current.

We thought we would have a beam reach, but this extra 20 degrees to the right made for a close reach or near beat. Team Island Spirit LOVES to sail upwind, so it was fine with us. With winds 15-18 knots, it was a perfect morning sail.







Sunrise over the bow of Island Spirit as we
sail for West End, Grand Bahamas Island
The sun rose over the bow as we sailed East, and we each took turns napping and standing watch as our autopilot and wind vane steering drove us at speeds of 5 knots plus a current of 2.5 knots for a ground speed or SOG of 7.5+ nearly all the way. By 9am the winds backed and we were beam reaching for a wonderful sail in 2-3 foot seas. This backing winds also brought less wind and by 11 am we needed to motor sail since it was less than 10 knots of wind. 8-10 knots would be great in the bay or calm waters, but out in the ocean you need 15+ to really sail through the ocean swells. Usually there is too much wind in the ocean, so this 8-10 was the predicted light wind, which is why we crossed today to avoid high waves in the Stream.

Arriving into West End, we hoisted the solid yellow Q Flag, meaning crew and vessel are "quarantined" and have not been cleared into the country. The captain needs to fill out 5,000+ sheets of paper and take all passports and ship's documents to the customs officer and clear into the country. The customs officer reviewed our papers and passports and collected our fees and gave us a 90 day cruising permit to explore all the Bahama Islands. We plan to explore the Abacos for the next two months!y All our buddy boats, Catspaw, Cutter Loose, Dragon's Toy, Flatlander and Lark, arrived safely and we enjoyed the pool, the beach and the Tiki Hut Bar and Grill.



The water color all the way over was indigo blue, where the depths are over 2,000 feet! Then when we came up onto soundings, meaning water depth our depth meter can read, or sound, the water turned into a NEON BLUE....It is difficult to believe, but it is a truly spectacular color.

We feel blessed to be here and to discover this and take it all in.

Welcome to the Bahamas...mon...enjoy your stay....

Photos of the day...
Departing Miami at 2am, its DARK
Here is what a well lit 1,000 foot container ship looks like
passing us at 17 knots! Stay out of the way....this will NOT stop
  
NEON BLUE water color as we approach West End, Bahamas
here the water is about 50+ feet deep and you can see the bottom!
Radeen drops the Q flag and attached the Bahamas flag.
The Bahamas flag is flown from the starboard spreader, the US flag remains on the stern.

Hayden, with his sun hat, hoisting the first foreign country flag on Island Spirit.
Today, we plan a 50 mile sail across the Bahama Banks to Great Sale Cay where we will anchor for the night. Then, racing the approaching front, we will sail Saturday into the Sea of Abaco and make Allen's Cay or a dock at Spanish Key for a few days. This next frontal system is showing 30-35 knots North winds and then NE at 30 knots. We have dock reservations in case this system really is that strong. Hey...it's Radeen's birthday on Saturday, so we need to bake a chocolate cake and celebrate!

4 comments:

Greg K said...

Glad you all had a nice sail over. I never get tired of the beautiful blue colors that the ocean dishes out.

My best to all of the boats and a big Happy Birthday to Radeen.

Mark, Beth and Noah said...

Congratulations on your first crossing of the gulf stream. Enjoy Spring in the Bahamas! Don't limit yourselves to the Abacos, keep exploring down island.It only gets better.

Mark, Beth & Noah-mon

S/V TERRATIMA said...

FANTASTIC!!!!! You have no ida how much we'd love to be there with you all.

Roger Family Sailing Adventures said...

HEY!
Congratulations on your crossing. Sounds as if it went very well. You will have a great time in the Abacos. Great conch salad in Green Turtle Cay. As others have said, don't miss the Barefoot Man. I'm sure you will hear about "Alice!"