We left Great Sale Cay at dawn, and had a wonderful sail across the Little Bahama Bank, with a light S breeze. There was enough wind to get the boat moving at 7 knots with the screacher, and it was steady enough for us to set the autopilot and relax. However, soon we were close-hauled again, still making good progress over the beautiful shallow water of the bank. Tom (apparently tired of Trevelyan Stew) suggested we put a fishing line over the side, which we did. The wind picked up a bit, and we were sailing at 7-8 knots in a choppy sea. It felt strange to be sailing in shallow water waves while out of sight of land. It reminded me of sailing on Lake Erie (but warmer and quite a different color!).
Before long, the line buzzed, and Tom kept the boat steady while I fought the fish. This one was really strong, and whenever I got him near the boat, he swam straight down. We had a lot of trouble getting him on the boat - the net was not big enough. But we did, and I cut a couple of fillets. Tom (who is a restauranteur) took over cooking, and, with the boat bucking to windward, sautéed them in butter and served them with a marinara sauce. Delicious!
To be continued....
We got in to West palm beach at 4am. It was a tough passage, but we made it. More later...
Great sail to Great Sale
Other cruisers at Spanish Cay were very worried for us when we said we were sailing West and hoping to make it to Florida before the end of the week. They are all still bouncing around in the marina, while we are at a peaceful anchorage at Great Sale Cay, 50 nautical miles towards home. We set off at 8am, and arrived at 4pm, sailing hard on the wind for 8 hours in 15 gusting 20 knots. Tom did most of the steering, while I navigated and ground the jib sheets.
When we got here, I tried to supplement the famous Trevelyan Stew with some fresh fish, so I tried Danny's trick with the hotdog on a hook. No luck... but we did attract a gaggle of turns (the birds) that loved the rest of the hot dog!
If the weather cooperates, our plan is to sail to West End tomorrow, clear customs out of the Bahamas, and depart for Lake Worth or Fort Pierce in the late afternoon, arriving early Thursday morning. Got to get some sleep now!
Upwind slog to Spanish Cay
As the weather seemed to be moderating, we decided to make a hop up to the next port at Spannish Cay, where I anticipated a peaceful might alongside.
The first problem was getting our anchors up. No amount of pulling would lift the delta, and from the way it held the boat throught the night, I suspected it was fouled. Tom volunteered to swim down and take a look, and sure enough, the chain was wrapped around a big old engine block. He was able to free it, and the anchor immediately dragged. We were very lucky to have a fouled anchor, or I am sure we would have dragged all night.
We got underway, finding the sea of Abaco very choppy and covered with whitecaps, and the wind still gusting in the mid twenties. But we set sail, gritted our teeth, and started bashing to windward with reefed main and jib. A while later, the wind and seas got up, maybe gusting thirty, which made the mast pump alarmingly. As Tom has already lost one mast this season, and it would not be good for his reputation to break another, we got the main down and continued under jib and motor. That combination worked well, and we continued comfortably to Spannish Cay.
But the marina there was in true Bahamian style. The breakwall was destroyed in a hurricane, so now the marina has little protection from winds from South through NW. We are safely secured, but it is a bouncy, uncomfortable berth.
Anchors still holding
We survived the cold front, which luckily did not hit us with a thunderstorm. There was a little rain, and a lot of wind. Tom guesses high 30s, maybe even 40 knots. The wind direction changed from South which required resetting the main anchor. It was a long night with little sleep for me. Next time, we get one of these fronts, the $100 a night marina fees will seem like good value.
We have a long way to go to get home, against a fresh NW headwind, and another cold front estimated for Friday.
We have spend the day at anchor, riding out a strong Southerly wind in advance of the cold front. Earlier, our anchors dragged, but now, in the shallow lagoon of White Sound, Green Turtle, the Spade and Delta are holding well, in winds gusting well over 30knots. The fortress anchor is useless in the this weedy bottom.
The cold front, with its thunderstorms, should be here in the next couple of hours. Keep your fingers crossed for us.
I am really glad Tom is here to help handle these conditions.
This morning, Tom arrived and Laura, Peter and Danny left for home.They had a good vacation, I think. It was pretty relaxing - we did a lot of swimming, and Laura read two thick books. But we will have to come back next year, so Danny can catch a bigger fish, and so the kids are better at snorkling and they will really enjoy the corral reefs.
For the first time this cruise, Tom and I we able to set the Spinnaker. The forecast is for another cold front on Sunday, so we decided not to lose any time getting north, while the wind was from the SE. We had a great run from Marsh Harbour, round the Whale Cay to Green Turtle Cay. We are now anchored in White sound, while the wind is building from the South.
Yesterday we fished for several hours outside Man'O'War Cay, but without any luck. Today was the last chance, so in desparation, we put some Hotdog on the hook and dangled it over the side in Marsh Harbour.
Danny writes: I threw in some extra bits of hotdog and jigged the hook up and down. Daddy went away for awhile. Suddenly I felt a fish pulling down on the hook. I wound it it, screaming, "Dad, Dad, I got one". But Daddy was not there. Mommy took a picture, and let the fish go, because he was teeny.
I am glad I caught a fish all by myself. But I wish Daddy was there to see it.