Back in the Bahamas!
31 December 2011 | Old Bahama Bay Marina, West End, Grand Bahama
We made it. We tried for an early start but that didn’t exactly work out. We cast off the lines at just about 6:45. It seems we left at low tide, and Bud was keeping to the green side of the channel as instructed, but he kept a bit too far to the green and we went aground. We were stuck pretty hard. I went down and checked our chart on the computer for the tides and was glad to see that we had just passed low tide, so gradually the tide would lift us. Not wanting to wait for the tide, Bud gunned the engine as each of three different boats went by and created a wake. After the third try our boat started to move. It spun all the way around on the stuck spot so when we came out of the mud we were facing back into the marina. Bud had to go back into their basin to turn around. The second time we came out of the channel it was about 7:20, we finally made it out of Lake Worth at about 7:45. So much for our early start.
We were still breaking in the engine and running it hard so even though there was no wind we were making pretty good time. However, there was a current against us from the start. We figure it was the tide coming in. We started out heading southeast, to try to get a bit south of our destination before we entered the north flowing current of the Gulf Stream. We were diverted even more to the south by a freighter. We have an AIS receiver hooked into our chart plotter, which tells us the name, size, type, destination, speed, course and most importantly the closest point of approach of any boat equipped with an AIS transponder. Since all large commercial boats and ships must have AIS transponders, it’s a nice tool. Bud had one freighter come up whose closest point of approach was 210 feet. That’s a lot closer than we’re comfortable with. So Bud altered our course to the south so the closest point of approach was a half-mile. I took a picture of it as it passed; it’s in the gallery.
After that ship passed we turned back southeast again, and not too much later decided we were at the edge of the Gulf Stream, so set our course for West End, which by then was a couple degrees north of east. Our speed picked up a lot when we did that and we made between 7 and 8 knots the rest of the day. The seas were very flat today; it was like sailing on a cobalt blue Lake Ontario. I took a shot of Earendil cutting through the Gulf Stream and that’s in the gallery, too.
It wasn’t nearly as spooky to me to head out into the ocean this time. For one thing, we’ve sailed out of sight of land quite a few times now. For another, we were going to a place we’d been to before, and finally, we could see our track from our last trip on the chart plotter. It’s amazing how comforting that is.
For the last third of the trip we flew the jib. There wasn’t much wind, but it built a little and in the end the sail was helping. It was nice just to have a sail up.
At about 3:30 PM we headed for the channel to Old Bahama Bay Marina, and I took this picture of our approach. We’re now cleared through customs, tied up, plugged in, fed and ready for the new year. I’m so glad we made it. We have one more very long day, to get from here down to Great Harbour in the northern Berries. We’re going to get up at 3:30 AM and take off at 4 AM so we can arrive down there in daylight. At least we’re feeling more confident with the engine. The fuel bubbled all day again, and again Bud added about a pint of diesel to the Racor at the end of the day. But the engine ran strong all day-and we’re here!