Two Fantastic Sailing Days
04 February 2010 | Chub Cay, Berry Islands
Beth / nights 72, days 80, wind 20kn
We left Bimini just before high tide on Tuesday, waving good bye to all our new friends there, and gathering in the docklines handed over by Vic, Marilyn and Nigel. This time we headed out into deep water at the lone green marker - off South Bimini. Ramha left earlier, headed for Gun Cay Cut and a stop on the banks. Amity was leaving later, headed for North Rock and an overnight trip across the banks. We had been thinking of Gun Cay Cut, but in the end decided to take the longer but less challenging route through North Rock.
We motor sailed for that first bit and then once through the cut, shut off the motor and sailed all the rest of the day. We had some discussions about destination based on angle of the wind, but in the end, held to our plan to end up at Chub Cay. The result of that was that we sailed at about 3 knots! A slow sail like that meant it was a day for lounging around on the foredeck, reading, napping, and generally relaxing. We knew we'd be spending the night on the banks and it didn't really matter where. What a relaxing way to travel! We were just shy of Mackie Shoal at sunset so we steered south of the rhumb line and dropped the anchor. (For non-sailors, the rhumb line is a bit like a highway. Marked on charts, it is the most direct route from one point to another and is where boats tend to travel.) Locals travel all over the place, but it reduces the chance of being run into at night if we stay a mile or so off the "line" and keep not only an anchor light, but some other lights on to increase our chance of being noticed.
We heard Oz on the radio and contacted them, to find that they and Star of the Sea were making a marathon crossing from Miami all the way to Nassau so we assume they were one of the parade of boats we saw going by sometime after 10pm. (Hope you made it safely!) We rolled quite a lot in the swell overnight but the anchor held despite numerous alarms going off whenever we swung this way and that way. We set off again around 7 since we figured there was no point in sitting there rolling.
Once again, we had a sailing day, but this one was much different. A squall came through around 9, with winds increasing to N 15-20 and gusts to 23, and a heavy rain shower. We rolled our yankee in, put the staysail out and kept the main up - and sailed through it all. About 45 minutes later, the rain was over and the wind had settled to a more consistent 15-20 knots, resulting in an average speed of 6.8 knots for us. (That's a high average for Madcap!) We roared along, moving through Northwest Shoal and Northwest Channel waypoints with no worries, and into the deep water of Northwest Providence channel. Once in water 1600 feet deep, the chop changed to more of a swell and was a little smoother travelling.
We had been debating the anchoring possibilities at Chub Cay (enough protection? depth of channel?) and called for information on the marina. The guy said there was 12 feet in the channel and room in the marina - but no wonder. They charge $2.75 per foot with a 40 foot minimum!) We quickly abandoned that idea and were pleased to find lots of room in the anchorage just to the west of the approach channel when we arrived at 3:30. Ramha was there along with a couple of other boats, and there must have been another 7 or 8 come in before dark.
Judy and Alain had been ashore exploring and scored some conch, so they invited us over for Alain's premier preparation of conch salad. It was delicious, and we spent a most enjoyable evening with them. We rocked a bit during the night on anchor but it was nothing like the night before, and our Bruce held again. :-)
On Thursday morning, we took a run into the marina in our dinghy just to see the place, and found many, many empty slips, some large houses and a number of sport fishing boats. We discovered that the place went bankrupt 3 months ago. The slips are privately owned - by part time residents? It seems such a shame. This place is ideally situated on the route from Bimini to Nassau, and one would think it could be packed with boats and activity if the price was less - and maybe it wouldn't be bankrupt? One lone sailboat was tucked in at the back and of course we went over to say hello! It was Southern Vectis with Mary and Bill on board. We had chatted with them as we travelled and were glad to have a brief chance to see them before they went off to the airport to check in. I have since discovered that they, along with Carole and Bob were the folks who called out to us in the New River! Cruisers do tend to find each other!