Saturday, 22 March 2014

March 10, 2014

We have started planning our trip back to the U.S., watching the weather and stocking the boat in preparation for a good weather window.  

On Tuesday night the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club had organized a meatloaf dinner at Jamie’s place.  From past experience, these events are not to be missed.  This was no exception, the restaurant ‘Jamie’s Place’ serves Bahamian style food and is a favourite with locals.  It was an excellent meal.

The following morning we left Marsh Harbour to either go to Treasure Cay or go around the Whale Cay Passage.  The Sea of Abaco between Whale Cay and Treasure Cay is very shallow due to sand being shifted by many hurricanes.  The Whale Cay Channel is  a narrow passage that bypasses this area by going out into the Atlantic Ocean and back in.  Being a narrow passage, in certain wind conditions, the Atlantic Ocean makes it impossible to safely navigate through it.  The weather forecast for the next few days was not looking that great, so when we started out with no wind or waves on the Sea of Abaco, we decided to try the Whale Cay Passage.  It was a good decision.

We went to the Bluff House Marina on Green Turtle Cay as the weather forecast was still not good.  We met up with Pat and Tutti on ‘Keltic Kat’, friends from Indiantown.  They gave us some good suggestions on places to visit on our way north.  

It was rainy and windy for the next few days, but not as bad as they had predicted.  When the weather broke, we left Green Turtle Cay and headed to an anchorage on Manjack Cay.  Manjack Cay is a privately owned Cay, whose owner enjoys having the boaters around.  He has cut a path through his property so you can walk across the Cay to the beach on the Atlantic side.  The walk along the trail to the beach was a long one, but the miles of beautiful white sand beach with only a couple other boaters on it, at the end was worth it.  

Dave recognized a catamaran in a far corner of the bay as a James Wharram design, so we dinghied over to talk to the people.  It turned out this was the Wharram 38 that we thought we would build if we liked sailing our 17 foot catamaran.  We met Ron and Gail, the owners, and they invited us aboard for a tour.  They had been sailing the boat on the Chesapeake for a few years and Ron had planned on working on the interior during their trip south.  This idea wasn’t working too well as they had made it all the way to the Bahamas and it was still looking rough.  It was interesting to see the boat and some of the things that had looked good on the plans, just didn’t work in full size.  

We wanted to break up the trip from Manjack Cay to Great Sale Cay, and friends had mentioned Crab Cay, so we decided to check it out.  It was a large horseshoe shaped bay with what looked like a beautiful palm tree covered beach at the end.  The weather forecasters are again calling for another storm front coming in, in a few days, so we decided to stay here, then move to a marina before the storm hit.  We spent 3 days exploring the shore, beach combing, swimming, reading and relaxing.  We had hoped to be able to swim off the boat, but there was a 3 foot Barracuda whose territory we had apparently anchored in.   We were more intimated by him, than he was of us, so we dinghied to shore when we wanted to go for a swim.  

We left Crab Cay and travelled 4 miles east to Spanish Cay Marina with the hope of a safe place to tie up during the predicted gale force winds.  This turned out to be a mistake.  We noticed as we arrived that the break wall was not very far above water level, but we really didn’t think anything of it at the time.  The dock master helped us tie up to the slip he had assigned and we went exploring the Cay.  This Cay is privately owned by a person from Texas and it had it’s own private 5,000 foot air strip which we found was now only 3,000 feet long after Hurricane Sandy.  It turns out that the low break wall that we noticed earlier, had also been damaged by Hurricane Sandy, thus providing us no protection from the storm that had now arrived.  We spent the next two nights with our stern to the wind with the boat hobby-horsing up and down with the back end slapping the water, we got very little sleep.  The third morning the wind let up a bit and shifted direction so we untied and left and started heading north west towards Great Sale Cay.  

Great Sale Cay is a deserted cay with a large horseshoe shaped bay that provides good protection in everything but a south wind.  It is a very popular spot for people to anchor on their trip to or from the Abacos and when we arrived we found today was no exception, with 11 or 12 boats anchored there.  Our plan was to leave early the following morning so we set the alarm for 5:30 am., this would have got us to          the Indian Cay Channel on a rising tide.  We had not remembered the time change and ended up getting up at 6:30 am., the new time which was going to make us late for reaching Indian Cay Channel.  As we left, the wind picked up a bit and we were able to use the jib to add a few knots to our speed.  This got us to the channel just a half hour after high tide, and gave us enough water to go through this narrow channel and on to Old Bahama Bay Marina.  

The weather forecast had been, 4 good days of weather before it turned nasty.  Day 2 had got us to Old Bahama Bay Marina and we decided to use day 3 to go across the Gulf Stream to Lake Worth Inlet.  We set the alarm to the correct time and left just before sunrise and sunny skies with a light breeze.  On our way we saw what looked like a lot of sandwich bags floating on the water, these turned out to be Portuguese Man of War.  We also saw a lot of flying fish.  They looked pretty shining in the sunlight, and it was surprising to see how far they could actually fly!  As we got into the east end of the Gulf Stream the weather changed to light rain and the swells increased to three to four feet.  It was a bit of a bumpy ride till we got nearer to the west side of  the Stream and things settled a bit.  You can see the Florida skyline a long ways out and we were able to see the outline of high rise buildings not long after we were out of the Gulf Stream.  The weather also changed as it got sunny and the winds picked up allowing us to put the sails back up and give us a few extra knots of speed.  This was a real boost as it had been a very long day since leaving the Bahamas.  As we neared the entrance to Lake Worth Inlet, we spotted two water spouts in the distance and we think they were whales, but we never saw anymore after that.  We dropped the anchor around 6 pm. in Lake Worth Inlet, Florida - tired and glad to have the day behind us.           
The path to the beach on Manjack Cay

30 minutes later the beach on Manjack Cay

Crab Cay wild life

Crab Cay 

Our 3' neighbour at Crab Cay (Barracuda)

Sunrise leaving Old Bahama Bay Marina, Grand Bahama Island 

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