28 March 2011
The weather settles down after a farily boisterous two days where we are anchored in the lea of Highbourne Cay and there appears to be several days of good weather in the forecast for us to expedite our return to the US. So we leave Highbourne Cay and head towards Nassau. Now don't think we have anything particular against Nassau but it's a big city and very busy and bustling. Two years ago on our trip down and back we got caught in Nassau for a week on the way down and ten days on the way back in it grates on you after a couple of days. So while we need to get to the vicinity of Nassau, we choose to head to a quiet island to the east of New Providence called Rose Island. While only a few miles from the bustle of Nassau and the ostentations Paradise Island, it's quiet and calm. We have a fantastic sail (yeah, read sail) the 30 or so miles from Highbourne Cay to Rose Island.. Our route takes us over the so called White and Yellow Banks which are outcroppings of coral which you have to keep an eye out for as they grow and shift and can be quite shallow. But we are fine and enjoy a spirited sail on a beam reach to Rose Island where we anchor down mid afternoon.
The next leg of our trip, from Nassau (Rose Island) across the New Providence Channel was the leg on the way down which we'll not forget for some time with huge seas and very uncomfortable condition. Well this time could not have been more different; it was flat calm and we motored with absolutely no wind. We didn't mind however. We make a long day of about sixty five miles and anchor on the so called Bahamas Banks, intending to get a good night' sleep and head out the next day for Bimini. It's absolutely calm and moonlight as we anchor what would seem to be in the middle of the ocean. We cannot see land or any other land mark and it's almost as we have anchored in the middle of the Atlantic We note the anchor lights of several other cruisers as the night wears on but it's still eerie!
The tranquil evening ends about 2:00 am as the boat first starts to gently roll then begins to pitch and yaw quite violently as a wind picks up from the north. Remember that the banks are only ten to twenty feet deep so it doesn't take much wind to create a very uncomfortable seaway. I get virtually no sleep after 2:00 and am a bit weary as we up anchor at 7:00 to head the long trip across the Banks to Bimini. The day starts well with nice winds on our beam and we are sailing along briskly. We change course a bit to our port as we round a shallow area called Mackie Shoals. Instantaneously the wind shifts to directly on our bow and with steep and close seas. We have no choice but to motor into the winds and seas as Sea Sharp buries her bow about every seventh wave, often crashing down with a shuddering crash which reduces our speed to a virtual standstill. We are not making very good time but we have a long way to go and have no choice but to continue on. Judy' a trooper and Chopin is also. When he gives up and realizes he can't control the situation, he reverts to his hide out which happens to be in the forward cabin at the very bow of the boat; which happens to be the place on the boat with the most violent movement. But he seems to resign himself to this fate and does not make a peep (although he glare at me with that typical look of distain for having forced him into this situation) After a couple of hours the winds and seas ease off and we are able to make Bimini, Bahamas well before dark and anchor in the company of three of four other boats and enjoy a fine late afternoon on the beach.