04/14/2009, 25 43.500N 79 17.857W
A quick note to say we arrived in Bimini this morning at 0800 as planned. No sleep last night with the overnight passage, so we are tired and going to bed right now for a while. Will write more later today after the nap.
Continued: As planned, we departed Nassau at 1100 yesterday and sailed 122nm to Bimini, arriving here at 0730 today after 20 hours of spirited sailing. We left early to hit the northwest shoal channel west of Chub cay at flooding tide, and also to ensure we arrived here at Bimini as early as possible as the winds were forecasted to increase to around 30kts today. We also had to time this so that we did not arrive here at Bimini too early and in the dark.
We had light winds heading north across the Tongue of the Ocean and motor sailed for a couple of hours. The winds finally started to pick up about 4 hours into the trip and we were flying from that point on. So much so that we were going too fast and would have arrived here at Bimini two hours early and in the dark. That is important because the approach to the marina has several sand bars with two narrow channels, that while marked on the charts, the markers are no longer in place (or maybe never was). All we know is it was a bit of a nail biter coming in this morning not sure if we were truly in the channel or not. As it turned out, after an aborted approach when we felt we had missed the channel, we got it right the second time and made it without issue. Thank goodness for Joe and Deb's (Sea Note) advice on hugging the beach (they know this is important as they ran aground here a couple of years ago. So we reefed the sails and slowed things down for the last 8 hours. The winds and seas built steadily all night. Sustained winds of 15 - 25 kts with gusts to 30 kts and quartering seas of 6' - 8' seas made sleeping difficult for Nikki, but she managed to get a little sleep after about 0300 this morning. Kristinly is built for this kind of stuff and handled it extremely well, but you just can't stop the roll when conditions are like that.
It was a great trip, and the highlight was catching a Mahi Mahi (dolphin fish) just as we were entering the Great Bahama Banks in about 2000' of water. We were very excited to see this beautiful 3 foot long yellow and green fish leap out of the water. We got it up to the transom and as I was lifting it out of the water (no gaff, which Nikki has added to the boat list!) it got off the hook. For you doubters, we have proof, as Nikki was videoing the whole thing. I would send the video, but the file is huge (19 meg) and I don't know how to edit it down like we do the photos. If any of you fishermen and women would like to see it, I will be happy to send it to you.
You will see a couple of photos regarding the auto helm being repaired by me. It broke just as we left Rock Sound the other day and we had to manually steer for 8 hours, which really sucks and you realize just how important it is to have that on the boat. But we got it fixed and it worked flawlessly last night - thankfully!
We are going to be here at the Bluewater Marina in Bimini at least until Saturday, and may Sunday waiting for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream. At least for now, that looks likes the first good opportunity to do so. Will write more before we leave if there is anything of note. Otherwise, will write to let you know when we plan to depart for Florida.
We sailed across the Exuma Sound yesterday to Highborne Cay and now back in Nassau today. A truly beautiful day, but mostly motor sailing due to light south winds yesterday and close hauled with NW winds today. Very calm last night and were it not for a few clouds, it would have been a good shot at a green flash.
We really did not want to come back to Nassau, especially today as there are what seems like hundreds of boats flying through the harbor. But I wanted one last good look at the weather via a reliable internet connection, and we could use some provisioning.
Our plan is to depart Nassau tomorrow around 1200 and sail overnight to Bimini, arriving there around 0900 Tuesday. As of now, it appears we may be waiting a little weather out there before crossing the Gulf Stream and arriving back in Florida. Neither Nikki nor I want to leave the Bahamas, but want to do what we can to ensure she can be in Ft. Lauderdale for her flight on the 25th. In the process, Nikki will get her first experience of sailing over night and crossing the Gulf Stream. She will no longer be a virgin in these matters. She has really come a long way and her modesty won't allow her to admit it, but she is truly a cruiser now with lots of sailing experience. I think she may love the cruising life ALMOST as much as I do. However, there are few opportunities for long hot showers and wearing of cute shoes. Oh well, you can't have everything.
We will probably write again from Bimini before we depart for Florida.
04/10/2009, 24 52.306N 76 09.918W
We arrived at Rock Sound after a day of motor sailing. Nearly dead calm at times left the water absolutely flat without a ripple. This enabled us to look over the side and see the bottom as if it was only a few feet deep - crystal clear water. It was actually 20' - 30' deep. We saw some fish and coral, but the real treat was watching a nurse shark (about 8' long) pass directly underneath the boat.
Since this is Easter weekend, this community has a huge festival called "homecoming", and many, many people return home from away, as well as boat loads of cruise ship tourists show up for an open air party atmosphere. It was dumb "luck" on our part to show up here for this. We met some other cruisers (one couple from N. Duxbury, VT on a boat named Watercolors) at the opening ceremony Thursday night, but we went back to the boat around 2100 when things were really starting to get started. The way it works is people start arriving en masse around 2100 - 2200, and then some DJ play something like screaming out of speakers (otherwise known as music, I guess) so loud that people many miles away could here it. We woke up at midnight Friday night and decided then and there that would be our last night. We departed Saturday for Highborne Cay.
Before we left, we rented a car Friday and drove back north up the island to see things from a different perspective. We saw a place called the Glass Window, which is a very narrow spot in the island which has been broached by the sea. A bridge was built to span the gap, and it was lifted not too long ago by a rogue (very huge) wave from the ocean and moved over 7'. In true Bahamian fashion, rather than move the bridge back, they simply moved the road.
Both Nikki and I felt the same sobering feeling of seeing these very simple and loving people living in poverty. Lots of sitting around and drinking by the men who must be unemployed most of the time. It would appear that the women bear the burden of providing a stable family life. We saw one woman washing her hair at a public water faucet. Buildings, both home and businesses, are generally in poor repair, many damaged by past hurricanes and tropical storms, I am sure. It is a stark reminder of just how lucky we are.
One last note: Jenni turned 25 on the 9th, and we managed to find an internet connection good enough for a short Skype call to wish her a happy birthday. I can't believe she is a quarter century old. It seems like it was just yesterday I was changing her diapers and wiping her butt, and watching her crawl around on all fours when she was not yet 1 with as dirty diaper in her mouth. Now she is all grown up and about to be married. She has come so far, and I am proud of her.
A quick note to tell you we arrived here today at noon. Big celebration here on the island for Easter, so will probably be here a few days. Then will make our way to Nassau, via Highborne Cay - most likely. Poor internet access here, so will write more later if possible.
04/08/2009, 25 09.080N 76 11.681W
We decided to take advantage of west winds and sail south down Eleuthera Island and so passed through a very narrow cut called Current Cut and then farther south. We had to time the passage though this cut, as a foul tide working against us at a reported 9 kts would blow us back the other way. As it was, we arrived at the cut 45 minutes before low tide and had the tide with us and clocked our passage at 9 ½ kts. That would be about as fast (speed over ground) as this old boat has ever traveled.
We arrived at this anchorage at 1600, and the weather conditions were beautiful, another in a long line of beautiful sunsets and gorgeous shoreline made this another one of our favorite spots.
04/07/2009, 25 32.526N 76 44.738W
After studying the weather forecasts and considering our options, we decided to sail NE to St. George's Cay. More specifically, our destination was Spanish Wells. This is a really neat community. Very clean, well kept buildings, extremely friendly locals, and golf carts are the primary mode of transportation. A cold front moved through the night we arrived and we picked up a mooring and spent two nights here. I asked the guy who collects the mooring fees ($15/night) from his boat, how these moorings are constructed. His response is some local ties a bit fat line to an old engine block and shoves it over the side. Needless to say, we were a little nervous about the tenuous condition of the mooring, but no problems and we had a great stay.
This day was perhaps one of the best in terms of sailing we have had on this trip. In fact, we have done very little motoring since leaving Florida. We have only consumed 40 gallons of diesel fuel to date. That would last me about 5 - 6 days motoring down the ditch (ICW) along the east coast of the USA.
A side note - fishing has sucked and this has to change ...
We're at St. George's Cay (part of the Far Bahamas) and in a settlement called Spanish Wells...it's much more developed than the islands we've been going to...neat colorful little houses, seemingly spotless fishing boats (fishing and lobstering are the main industries here). But still not much by way of internet connection....right now, we're collecting some weather info to plan for the next few days and collecting e-mail in a strange little office/party supply store and we couldn't do that until the power came back on...such is the Bahamas! Anyway, we had an amazing sail here from Nassau yesterday...maybe the best day yet...even broke 8 kts a few times...almost took flight! Today is a bit overcast, so we rented a golf cart (it's what most people seem to drive here) and toured around the island, got wine (we were completely out...it was a crisis really), and got the propane tanks filled. All in all, a quiet day for the captain and crew of the "Kristinly". We'll do some planning based on the weather and will likely be in Eleuthera within the next few days.
Fair Winds All...