|Jeff and Radeen, ready to go, Coconut Grove Sailing Club at dawn|
"The hardest part of a sailing trip is....just leaving the docks!" And so it was once again. You would think after all these years of running our boat, now with over 12,500 miles, we would be very accustomed to preparing a boat for a trip.
This trip, departing Miami, FL for the Exumas then up to the Abacos seemed to be more challenging. With the normal prep work, we met our goal and departure date. Our good friend and fellow Island Spirit team mate, Jeff G. jumped onboard for a sail to George Town. Jeff keeps us all safe with nuclear power and we certainly hope the industry manages with him offline while sailing aboard Island Spirit.
|Sunset sailing on the Bahama Banks|
After Jeff concluded two days of meetings at the NRC in Washington DC, he moved his Friday flight up to Thursday so we could jump onto the end of a week long weather window and depart Miami. At 0600 we moved off the mooring ball at Coconut Grove Sailing Club and moved to the water dock, filled up, and headed out Biscayne Channel for sea. We crossed the Gulf Stream (Florida Current) and entered between Gun Cay and Cat Island onto the Bahama Banks. We enjoyed a wonderful chicken piccata dinner with strawberries and pound cake prepared by Radeen. Then we sailed all night long across the Banks, bound for the North West Channel.
|Morgan's Bluff Fuel Dock and the only wall to climb up|
That is the bar/customs house in the background
We arrived the narrow NW Channel at 0200 (2 AM!) and with lightning and a bit of rain, we crossed into the Tongue of the Ocean. We sailed this south to Morgan's Bluff. There we needed to wait offshore for daybreak in order to find the channel markers. These were not showing up on radar, so we
decide to NOT enter the channel at NIGHT. Good call, as the channel markers were NOT there due to Hurricane Sandy. Arriving in Morgan's Bluff, we dropped anchor and slept until our 0930 Customs meeting. We had called the day before to make sure they would be there then and they said they would. Well, 930, 1030, 1130....1230 was when the officers finally arrived! We checked into the country and departed immediately at 1:15 pm for a 28 mile sail to West Bay, New Providence, arriving at dusk!
|Team Island Spirit, mid stream, offshore Miami|
Over all, the 36 hour passage was not as difficult as any of the 10 Cape May, NJ to Block Island, RI runs we have made. This trip has many different components: Gulf Stream Crossing, Bahama Banks Sailing, NW Channel Passage with missing marks, Tongue of the Ocean sailing at night, and brisk upwind sailing / motoring to get to West Bay. Now, the next leg is 45 miles East to Highborne Cay, where we will reach the Exumas. We can sail SOUTH on this EAST wind and reach George Town. From there....we will explore, explore, explore...
Here are some photos of this leg...
|10 extra gallons of diesel fuel on deck to back up our 48 gallon tank|
Fuel burn is 3/4 gallon per hour, at 7 mph!
|8 gallons of gasoline in red tanks on the stern rails|
for the "car" our dinghy to get ashore
|Hayden and Radeen at sunrise departure for the Exumas|
|Stiltsville homes next to Biscayne Channel|
|Looking off the stern down at the water color|
Bahama Banks shallow water!
|Jeff offshore in the Gulf Stream|
|There it is...Gun Cay, the island cut that we passed through|
Notice the waves crashing on the rocks, this is a calm day
|ahhhh....Bahama Banks, 8-10 feet deep, calm, and great sailing|
That is the shadow of our sails and hull on the sandy bottom
|Sunset on the Great Bahamas Bank, 10 hrs to the NW Channel passage|
We motor sailed all night
|0630, 24 hrs later, we are hoisting the Q flag, quarantined in Morgan's Bluff|
on the northern end of Andros. Time to check in to Customs.
|Island Spirit at anchor while Hayden is ashore checking in|
|Anchored off Morgan's Bluff, Andros Island|
|Up with the Bahamas flag....papers filed, and fees paid, we are good for 180 days|
|Off we sail for New Providence from Andros|
|West Bay, New Providence, Bahamas, a birthday to remember!|
Hayden announces the sunset with his conch horn...Thank you CAREY!
See our building EXUMAS TRIP MAP HERE