Thursday, May 31, 2012

Best Laid Plans and Forecasts

We left Great Sale Cay yesterday morning after Bill replaced the solar panels that were ripped off the day before when the reef lines got caught on them while we were adjusting the mainsail during a squall.  They took a licking and are still ticking--amazing since at one point, one of the panels was hanging off the roof by the wires.  I cant tell you how exciting it was to put them back up there and tie them down during a storm--but--all in a day's boating.  The plan was to take the 100 miles trip home in 2 days.  The first day we would go to the edge of the Little Bahama Banks and sleep until 3 or 4 am then cross to the States.  This would place most of our transit time during the day and also take advantage of calm weather forecasted for Thursday.  We were travelling with 2 other boats who are friends from Florida.

During the sail to the Banks, we stopped at a"Donut Hole" a formation of thick seagrass with rocks in the middle surrounded by sand.  There was a huge aggregation of fish there, snappers, grunts, spadefish, 2 nursesharks, jacks--tons of fish that were also VERY friendly.  I suspect people feed the fish here. I saw a large green moray eel (who was a little more friendly than I cared for him to be) and some very unusual anemones.  This was not a very big bunch of rocks but it was loaded.  Bill tried to spear a snapper but he could only stun them.

I knew this would be my last snorkel , the water was so nice and warm, but we still had quite a ways to go to meet our friends on the Banks.  The wind picked up and we had a good sail but, as we approached, we knew the waves were not going to make for a comfortable restful night. This is quite common on the banks and you either suck it up and try to sleep or continue on.  Taking down the sails and anchoring in the wind was not easy.  Our friends had been there for a while and decided that since they weren't going to get any sleep anyway that they wanted to cross to the States overnight.  We didn't have any problem with this but it would have been nice to know that before I struggled with getting the sails down and anchoring.  So we pulled up anchor, set the sails and sailed right into some thunderstorms--down go the sails-again.  Fortunately the storms only lasted a couple of hours but wind directions changed and confused the seas--which we had really not prepared for (remember--we were going to start in the morning in "calm" conditions). Everything started flying off tables,shelves and counters.  Spaghetti escaped from the box and leaked out the pantry cabinet onto the galley floor.  The whole boat looked like a tornado went through it.  At around 2am, the Kitty came out of the back bunk and WAILED-it was so pitifull and she was seasick.  I consoled her and got her back into the bunk.

Not the best crossing--but we got into Ft. Pierce around 8am, checked in with Customs (they wanted us back-darn!) and will rest up before heading back to Melbourne.  Kittty's find too. She is taking it easy on the deck.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Headed Back to the States

Unfortunately, the poor internet conductivity has made it difficult to use the blog and I have found it easier to post short messages and sometimes a picture on Facebook.  Our travels here in the Bahamas are coming to a close.  I expect that we will be back in the US by the weekend. 

The Abaco Islands are much different than the rest of the Bahamas and much more developed.  We are now anchored in a development much like one you might see in Florida.  Today we will be headed toward Great Sale Cay which will be our jumping off point for the trip across the Gulf Stream to the US.  This part of the trip must be carefully planned with consideration of the weather because the wrong winds combined with the Gulf Stream's current can make for a very uncomfortable and dangerous sail. 

There has been some very good snorkeling and diving in the Abacos and we hope to do a few more dives before we leave.  The water is warm enough now to dispense with the wetsuits sometimes.

I will miss the Island Life.