Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bahamas Breached

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!
So, we tried today to bash our way into 20+ knot headwinds attempting to sail our way EAST in a East North East wind....DUH...that did not work. After reefing the jib from a 135% to 110% and sailing up onto the banks, 9 miles out, we decided to turn around and surf back into safe port. Doing 7.8 knots down wind in steep seas, we were all happy to safely back on anchor in West Bay with the boat intact. Island Spirit is one tough boat! We really need to WAIT for proper winds and better wind directions before moving on. That looks like Wednesday for now...Oh well, it is tough, but we will just live here until we can move on!

See our building EXUMAS TRIP MAP HERE

1 comment:

Greg Kerlin said...

Good for you guys!! Welcome back to the Bahamas.

So what the wind is on the nose. Just hang loose, have a rum punch (or two, or three, or four,) and wait it out Mon... No worry Mon.

Hang loose, enjoy and have fun.

Vaya con dios my friends.

Ps Love the pictures of the spray over the bow... Love it!