We Cross Whale Passage
09 May 2011 | White Sound, Green Turtle Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
This morning we had Cynthia and Teddy from Topaz over as planned. Like always with cruisers, we had a lot to talk about. They were as fascinated to be aboard a same but different Norseman as we were when we were on Topaz. We talked for about 2 hours, then it was getting late for us to get things together and move on. So we said good-bye and they went back. They are going to Marsh Harbour tomorrow to pick up a friend who flew down to make the passage back to the states with them. They will leave from the top end of the Abacos and sail 6 straight days back to Annapolis, as long as the weather allows it.
Meanwhile, we tidied the last things up and raised the anchor. We had the perfect day for this trip, though. The Whale Passage is an area where you have to go outside the Sea of Abaco to avoid some shoals that run all the way from Whale Cay across to Great Abaco. Only shallow draft boats can cross the shoals. This is the area that can have a "rage" when the winds and current oppose, or when the winds are strong from the northeast, or when there is a big ocean swell rolling in from the northeast. We'd just had several days of light wind, and today the wind was light and from the west, so it was blowing out across the narrow Sea of Abaco and not in from the Atlantic. The picture above was a boat we passed as we were going along the outside of Whale Cay. It was and interesting boat, but you can also see that the waves were pretty tame. This is the area that gets bad enough to make the cruise lines abandon Baker's Bay, but today, we didn't even lift the dinghy aboard, we towed it with no problem.
Again, we weren't going that far so didn't put the main up. I did get a bit of a workout. As soon as we got on course we pulled out the jib. Not long after we got it out, the wind veered around too far and I had to pull it in. Then when we got to the Whale Passage itself we could carry it, so I pulled it out again. About 2 miles later we turned in towards the Sea of Abaco and I had to pull it in again. Then 3 miles after that, we turned and out it came. We managed then to carry it for the rest of the trip (the total trip was only 12 nm). It was still touch and go as the wind was swinging around under big puffs of clouds. It was still generally from the west, but kept veering towards the north, making it hard to carry the sail. When I wasn't unfurling or furling the jib, I was either sheeting it all the way in (pulling it tight to go more towards the wind) or easing it out again.
We found our way to White Sound, which is the northern most of the two harbors on Green Turtle Cay. It also has the deepest entrance channel, although we came in about an hour before high tide and Bud still saw 7' 9" on the depth meter. Take a couple of feet of tide off that and we'd be scraping the bottom. We were hoping it wasn't too crowded to anchor. There are two marinas in here, and some mooring balls. A lot of the bottom was grassy. We found a likely sandy spot and I started to drop the anchor. The chain got stuck before the anchor hit the bottom. I tried to get it loose but couldn't, so had to raise the anchor while Bud circled around and I went below to check the chain locker. It turns out that the chain was just down and back against the wall of the locker. I pulled some of it up by hand and came back up. We checked out one other spot while we were circling, but didn't like that, so headed back to make a second try. A boat I hadn't seen at all before was pulling up to that spot, and didn't they (successfully) drop anchor there. So Bud and I had to reassess and take a spot that was a bit closer to some other boats than we would like to be. We're really not that close, but we like to leave plenty of room around us. At least the anchor dropped with no issues this time, and when we went to check the anchor set with our viewing bucket it was buried completely, even the bail.
So now we are anchored in this busy little harbor. I'll post a picture in the gallery when I can that shows how close to us the boats run to get to the one marina. They go between us and the boats anchored closest to us. It's like living on a freeway...Bahamas style.