We haven’t had internet service since we left Port Everglades, so the following covers from our departure until today, April 11.
Wed. April 4- the second phase of the adventure begins.
Sea fever and Compass Rose hoisted anchors in Lake Sylvia about 3:15 a.m., while Mindfulness dropped off the mooring ball at Las Olas marina shortly after that. We all converged on Port Everglades inlet and were underway, sails up, by about 3:45. What had been promised to be a great sail at 10-12 from the S-SW, was a bit disappointing with much lighter winds for most of the trip. We all wound up motor sailing most of the way, which impacted Mindfulness the most, having lost use of their genny when a halyard let-lose. Sea Fever’s fuel starvation issue continued, though the engine never quit. Seas were relatively calm, though there were some 2-3’ swells much of the way. Mindfulness chose to head due east to the far side of the gulf stream while Sea Fever and Compass Rose held to the waypoint line on our chartplotters. We hardly saw any other vessels once we were offshore, except an occasional freighter, and even when we got to Memory Rock only a few other boats were in sight.
Ah… Memory Rock… and timing. We had not been able to contact Mindfulness during the entire crossing and had expected to find her at anchor enjoying happy hour when we finally made it there- not knowing they were running without head sail. When about 15 miles out we here..”Compass Rose, this is Mindfulness, do you copy?” Turns out they were approaching the waypoint from a slightly different angle and we all crossed from over 1000’ of water to the 10-12’ Bank at the same time! Very cool! By this time the winds were really picking up and we were all getting tired so we headed to find some shelter from the growing seas, behind a sand bar called Sandy Cay. This turned out offering little protection and we were all eager to leave by morning.
Travelled:-- 86 n.m., 03:15 to about 19:45 (16.5 hours).
Thurs. April 5—Sandy Cay to Mangrove Cay.
Our first full day in the Bahamas started out with some excitement. It had been a rough night with pounding seas and high winds so we were all anxious to get off anchor and head on to a more protected anchorage. We agreed to weigh anchor at 9:00 and head toward Great Sale Cay, with an optional stop at Mangrove Cay if it was too rough or taking too long. Away we go, until a few minutes out Compass Rose notifies Sea Fever that the engine is cutting off every time they go into gear, Tom thinks the dinghy painter is wrapped around the prop. Mindfulness and Sea Fever circled while Tom became the first of us to ‘go swimming’ in paradise. It was an exhausting job and extremely difficult given the 2-3’ seas and heavy winds, but Tom was able to free the prop and we were back underway in about 45 minutes. Then the first squall hit- heavy rains and winds, but we pressed on and found relative comfort nestled close in on the NE side of Mangrove Cay. Even with the chop in the area we could see the bottom thru the blue green waters! With the relative calm in the late afternoon, Bill hoisted Dee up the mast to get Mindfulness’ genny halyard back on track but they had to delay another day to get the genny back up.
Friday April 6---Mangrove Cay to Great Sale Cay
Started out like a perfect day to sail- including a welcoming rainbow…all mains were up within minutes of leaving the anchorage and Compass Rose and Sea Fever finally had a chance to go as fast as Mindfulness, we with our main and gennys and them with only their main. We were making great time and having a great sail with winds 17-20 plus from the south, on a beam reach. And then…as rain started to come on us, I left the helm to ‘auto’ to close up the companionway; as I returned auto’s alarm went off- unable to maintain the course and ..BAM.. I jibed. How embarrassing… and the winds were growing and I was trying to get the main sheet back in and the main back on center and then to port… no way... then out of nowhere, a calm and steady voice…”Annie, I know its not me, but if it were me, I’d try to do a 360”…got it Tom (my hero to the recue, again)… slowly bring her around, center the main and try to get the main sheet, which had pulled 2 wraps out of its block, leaving a power of 2 not 4 (darn me forgetting to put the figure-8 back in the end of the sheet!) Finally, done…enough of that, drop the main, tie her down and run with the genny for a while…phew… breathe again… BUT that was just the beginning…
Thunder storms all around as we continue on our way, Compass Rose out ahead, reefed main and genny flying, Sea Fever following with genny about 2/3 out, and Mindfulness with her main up full…then Bill comes on… ‘hey guys, look off to our starboard side in those thunder clouds… there is a funnel coming down…do you see it?”...Compass Rose…”we’re bringing in our sails”…Sea fever… “Bringing in the genny, going to engine, full… Mindfulness, you may want to bring in your sail, too”… “already working on that…” The clouds continued to get darker and the funnel got bigger… Mindfulness was between Sea Fever and the funnel and they were heading the wrong way- trying to head into the wind to get that main down… you could see the water being sucked up as the funnel moved closer… come on everyone let’s get as far as fast as we can…. DONE!!! Funnel dissipated, though winds, and off and on rain continued, but we made it to Great Sale Cay intact!
By evening winds were shifting to the NNE and overnight we had 15-25 knots, but we were fully protected from wave action and aside from checking that we weren’t dragging, had a peaceful night.
Sat. April 7.. Great Sale Cay
We had expected continued winds from the N to NE, based on reports before we left Lake Sylvia, and they were right. Talked with a fellow sailor this morning—they are in Great Sale waiting for a weather window back to the States---about the weather forecast. He has single side band so is able to pick up some of the local broadcasts intended for cruisers. Today- 20-25 from the NNE, Sunday, 12 dropping to 10 from about70 degrees (ENE), then Mon-Wed- light and variable… we will be in Great Sale at least another day.
Sunday, April 8---Easter
Winds did continue from the ENE at 10-20 so we decided to spend another day and take the opportunity to explore Great Sale Cay. I joined Bill and Dee in their dinghy and we checked out parts of the cove and tried to keep up with some of the marine life- a dozen or more sea turtles (boy can they ‘fly’ through the water), a 4’ shark that circled us as we tried to circle it, and a couple of really BIG fish. When we made it around to the west side of the island, to the beach, we found a long line, covering much of the length of beach, where something had been digging. Then we spotted the hoof prints- a wild boar, apparently, had been rooting out the sand looking for…something… Want to keep an eye out for that guy! There were also the remains of a fairly good size cement foundation with a large cistern- obviously not used for a long time.
Easter dinner was on Mindfulness-including our own individual Easter eggs-- great as always! Thanks, Dee and Bill!
Monday April 9- on to Foxtown!
We left Great Sale Cay headed for Crab Cay with an option to stop at Foxtown, on the north side of Little Abaco Island, if the weather turned bad, we were making poor time, or were running low on fuel. Winds were from the ESE and we were headed East, but we were doing ok until about 5 hours in. The winds died down and we wound up motoring more than sailing and were concerned about fuel consumption- so we pulled in to Foxtown, anchoring behind Hawksbill Cay. This was a interesting spot- large (I mean huge!) rocks … everywhere. There was plenty of depth at 7-9’, but we had to navigate around the rocks- only in daylight!
There was the most fantastic sunset that night... the sun was enormous and it set behind one of the rocks that surround, and protect the town and its harbor (by the way, it must be a ‘right of passage’ for the locals to learn the location of every rock because they were running al lthrough them into the night, at full tilt.)
Tuesday, April 10- on to Green Turtle Cay and our ‘official’ entry into the Bahamas
We hoisted anchors about 8 and made our way to Green Turtle Cay this morning. Sea Fever had her yellow “Q” (quarantine) flag flying, indicating that she had not yet been cleared to travel in the Bahamas. Green Turtle is one of the few points of entry in the Abacos- where there is a Customs Office—and we are supposed to show the “Q” flag until cleared, at which point we can raise the Bahama ‘courtesy’ flag .
Winds were fairly light from the SSE still, but we were able to motor sail most of the way, though sails weren’t full at times. We dropped anchor about 3:45 and tried to make it into Customs to clear. Locals told us where the Office was- next to the Post Office- and they close at 5- great we’ll make it- it is only 4:20. NOT… got in there and the agent said she had missed lunch so decided to close early (island time?) but, she gave us all the forms we’d need to clear ourselves and our vessels, into the country in the morning. Great!
Mindfulness called us all over for a spicy jambalaya dinner- again- great as always!
Hopefully, once we get cleared in on Wed. we’ll find some internet wifi service and I can upload the past week’s “story”.
See our track from Port Everglades to Green Turtle Cay at: