Nasty, But We Had To Do It
20 May 2012 | Marsh Harbour, Abaco
When someone offers you the opportunity to hang out with them in Atlantis, you’d be silly to turn them down. Even if it means playing dodge ball with 30+ knot squalls to get there. We left George Town under gray skies and misting rain hoping that the weather would clear as we made our way north toward the day’s goal of Staniel Cay. Unfortunately our hopes were not enough to keep us clear of bad weather. Instead the weather worsened, and we settled in with the fact that the day would indeed suck. The squalls were relentless, packing plenty of wind and drenching sideways rain. The kind of rain that somehow comes around the dodger...forcing us to close the companionway entirely. The waves grew from 5’-7’ to 10’-12’ in short order. I kept reminding Maxwell that Atlantis would be fantastically fun and this was all totally worth it. At that point he did not agree with me, at all. Nonetheless I remained powerfully optimistic.
We bailed Exuma Sound at the first (and safest) opportunity thinking that we could sail much faster on the flatter waters of the banks. The cut was thrilling to say the least. Fortunately, the tide was in our favor and cooperating with the wind direction on our back. Ideally, smaller waves would have helped our stress levels while negotiating the cut but as I said earlier we were prepared for it all to suck. I was super proud of Maxwell as he sailed Anastasia through the tricky entrance. We had the engine on but not engaged as a safety measure. Once inside it was like a different place. We sailed at 7+ knots (very fast for our sea slug) with only our yankee jib. The water was close to flat, an extreme contrast to what we had just slogged through for the past 4 hours. The only problem at this point were the ever present squalls with their gusty winds and our course required us to head up substantially thus creating and uncomfortable, super heeled boat. My optimism faltered and we were very tired so we called it quits at Little Farmer’s Cay accepting the fact that Atlantis might not happen. We know and respect the cardinal rule of not sailing to a schedule and anchored for the night over 80 miles away from Nassau. A distance Anastasia cannot sail in daylight hours.
The next morning we were underway fairly early but not the-crack-of-dawn early. We planned to make it to one of the northern Exuma islands, Norman’s or Highborne, great jumping spots for a passage to Nassau the next day. I am not sure exactly when we made the decision, but somewhere along the way we pointed directly for Nassau. As the day progressed we committed to the decision knowing that we would be entering Nassau Harbour with our running lights on. We crossed the Yellow Bank (a.k.a. coral head alley) with not 30 minutes to spare as the sun waved goodbye and visual spotting went out the window. The nice thing about Nassau is that all vessels entering and exiting must clear with Harbour Control so we knew when there was a tanker or ferry headed our direction. Against the bright lights of the city it was really hard to see oncoming lights so this heads up was helpful. We negotiated the channel just fine and went under the two bridges to the anchorage just west of the second bridge. We dropped the hook around 11:30 that night just off of the port side of one of our friends and the bow of another, giggling to ourselves about when they might notice we were there. Utterly exhausted after two demanding days underway we prepared for bed ecstatic to be there.
Atlantis was amazing. Our friends on Good Trade put their boat into the marina and shared 2 of their 20 water park passes with us and Imagine, a family of 5 who have just completed a circumnavigation. All total our gang added up to 10 people, 6 adults and 4 very excited and energetic kids. Good Trade was the home base for our group as we all came and went throughout Atlantis. There is so much to do there from the aquariums to the casinos, restaurants, movie theatre, water park, and shops. It was so much more than we expected. Over and over again we told ourselves that it was worth the discomfort we endured to be there. However, the best part of all was what we brought with us in coming as a group. The children’s excitement was an energy that we all fed from. Maxwell and I agreed that if we had experienced Atlantis alone, it would have been totally different and we are sincerely grateful to have been included in all of the fun.