Long Reach - Manta 42

Cruising the Caribbean 2008

21 November 2008 | Martinique
01 May 2008 | The Bahamas
30 April 2008 | The Bahamas
29 April 2008 | The Bahamas
27 April 2008 | The Bahamas
25 April 2008 | En-route to Nassau
24 April 2008 | Freeport, Grand Bahama Island
23 April 2008 | Freeport, Grand Bahama Island

The long awaited website...

21 November 2008 | Martinique
Jo
Dear Family & Friends,
It's taken us (me!) a very long time to get around to doing this, 7 months in fact and now we have a whole lot of catching up to do. As most of you know we purchased the boat at the end of April in Port Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island and set sail that very same day....the ink was still wet! Until the beginning of July we were frantically trying to get down the islands in order to be south for the hurricane season. We can proudly say that we now have 2000? soggy miles under our belts and oodles of wonderful memories. We hope you enjoy hearing about our adventures and sorry for the delay.
Love Jo & Graham xx

Long Island, Rum Cay & Mayaguana

01 May 2008 | The Bahamas
Jo
The weather gods were totally on our side and our departure from the Exuma Banks to the Sound could not have been easier! On a beautifully clear and calm morning we waited for good light and then took the anchor up and set off slowly and carefully through the narrow channel which would take us through the cut into the deep waters of the Exuma Sound.

The Exuma Banks

30 April 2008 | The Bahamas
Jo
The Exumas are a string of cays and islands set on the shallow Bahama Bank in water of astonishing clarity and color. Stretching over 120 miles south east from Nassau, Capital of New Providence Island, some are inhabited but many are not.
We were surprised to find that the islands were not as we had imagined, white sandy beaches and swaying palm trees, but dry, sparsely inhabited, barren scrub lands. They are however surrounded by some of the most beautifully colored, clear water which makes the Bahamas so spectacular. Having sailed the length of the islands south to Grenada, we have not seen such contrasting blues and aquamarines as we did in the Bahamas. At times our new sailing grounds were challenging, the water was some of the shallowest we experienced and the combination of hazards such as shallows, reefs and coral heads, the majority uncharted, made for tricky navigation. The islands are bordered by shallow banks (6 ft) on one side and the very deep Exuma Sound (5000 ft) on the other, which can only be accessed in calm conditions through the navigable cuts.
We chose to cross the shallow Exuma Bank when the sun was high to ensure good visibility and with our newly acquired coral spotting skills, we recognized the reefs and coral heads by the change in the color of the water (no more cloud chasing!). Our course from here on meant that we would be sailing in a south easterly direction and into the prevailing winds, which as every sail boat owner knows and we found out, can make for an uncomfortable ride. Catamarans are especially prone to pounding and slapping when sailing upwind (G forgot to tell me that bit!), and it can be very disconcerting for the first time sailor (Ya telling me! - as the cabin floor and table leap 2 inches into the air with each deafening crash!!). Upon hearing this for the first time I truly believed the boat was being pounded to pieces, but G was very reassuring and constantly checked the bilges, for my benefit, to ensure that we weren't sinking but mainly to shut me up!!:)
On a warm, calm, cloudless morning the time came when we had to leave the safe haven of the shallows and make our exit from the banks to the sound. We were to continue our 1000 mile journey through the Caribbean Islands along the 'Thorny Path' - so called because of the battle so many sailors have against prevailing trade winds and ocean current. Many sailors have been known to avoid this path preferring instead to head as far east out to sea before heading south......not us though, why take the easy route and miss out on all of the fun!:) The Thorny Path was going to be a test of our sailing ability and meant that we needed to have a clear understanding of weather patterns: wind strength and direction, and wave height and direction, in order to pick the best weather window. Like most cruisers we constantly referred to the sailing bible, Bruce van Sant's guide, 'The Gentleman's Guide to Passages South - the Thornless Path', in which he explains the benefits of picking weather windows and explains how we could use the natural effect of the land on the Trade Winds overnight and early morning to offer, '...a whole new approach to sailing painlessly to windward', in other words....the benefits of night sailing aaargghh! Next stop Georgetown, ??? miles away and no more mention of night sailing, perrrlleaase!

Allens Cay & Iggie the Iguana!

29 April 2008 | The Bahamas
Jo
We really enjoyed our time in the Bahamas and were amazed at how unpopulated and unspoilt the islands were and as the days passed we got to grips with boat life (sun, sea, sand and cold beers!). Due to our busy itinerary we didn't make many stops down the island chain but did spend a night in the beautiful aquamarine waters of Allens Cay, a 40 mile sail from Nassau, which is famous for the prehistoric iguanas that inhabit the island. We had a pleasant sail from Nassau but found we had to be very alert in order to dodge the coral heads, fortunately they show up as big black spots in the water when the sun is high which makes them pretty easy to spot....sadly I initially struggled to differentiate between coral heads and passing cloud shadows and it was only once G altered course and then the supposed coral head disappeared that I realized I still had a lot to learn:) Allens Cay was our first taster or what was to come - our first real Caribbean beach - aquamarine water and a long sweep of white sand, fringed by palm trees. We chose to anchor on the east side of the anchorage in the beautifully protected, shallow water - an advantage of being a catamaran. Shortly after we arrived G swam the anchor and then we took the dinghy ashore to take a closer look. The island was teaming with iguanas of all sizes, some of them were quite scary looking and much tamer than I would have liked as they chased me along the waters edge in search of fruit! By late afternoon the last tour boat of the day had left and we were lucky enough to have the beautiful anchorage to ourselves, the iguanas and only 3 other boats. The perfect end to the perfect day and topped off with a little stargazing....

We're all alone!

27 April 2008 | The Bahamas
Jo
It had to happen, it was always going to happen, Chris had to leave us and the day came in Nassau when we had to say our goodbyes:(...eek! We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Captain Chris, he was a fantastic guy and we were going to miss him, not only cracking jokes but he was the only person that knew how to sail the boat:) Not to mention he didn't complain once about having to eat veggie meals, although if his consumption of beans and sausages on the last day was anything to go by, I'd say he was relieved his herbivore days were over:)
We benefited greatly from our time with Chris, we achieved everything we had set out to do, I made oodles of incomprehensible notes and we now knew what the boat was capable of, and sadly promptly forgot it all...information overload - money worth spent!
Sadly the goodbyes were said and as we returned to the boat on our own the realization of what we were about to do sank in, so in true seafaring style and to calm our (my) nerves we decided to have a beer! Next stop...Allan Cay, 40 miles away.

First lesson learnt...

25 April 2008 | En-route to Nassau
Jo
Captain Chris was kind enough to break us in gently and we spent our first 'proper' day at sea in the open ocean with an 80 mile crossing to Nassau, our first taster of ocean swell and 9ft seas. Everything started out so well, the guys woke up and it was like Christmas morning for them...they'd been moaning about the size of the current coffee maker only to find that after further investigation of the forward hatch there was a bigger and better, brand, spanking new coffee maker! Personally I think Chris's job was not only to teach G and me about the boat but to investigate every inch of the boat and play Santa as he revealed all the goodies he'd just found!...including the box of birthday presents I'd given G for his birthday!!!:) poor boy, he was so pleased with that find! Chris decided that due to the light winds and the excitement of his latest find it would be the perfect time to show us how to rig the spinnaker. The day continued to get better as we screamed across the ocean at 12 knots until.....I spotted every newbie sailors worst nightmare or just my worst nightmare....a tanker on the horizon. I had been monitoring its progress for the last 5 minutes or so and was becoming considerably nervous that neither of the guys seemed too bothered by it. Eventually Chris showed me how to take a bearing on it and explained that if the bearing stayed the same we were on collision course, if it increased we were moving further apart and if it decreased the tanker would pass ahead of us. A few minutes later the bearing was still the same, and quite clearly the tanker was growing in size......thankfully the guys decided it was time to take action! Maritime rules stipulate sailing vessels take priority over power vessels but as the picture shows this is not always the case and after numerous times trying to contact the Captain of the tanker and a couple of expletives from us, we learnt our first lesson.....don't mess with the big ships!!!
We arrived in Nassau in good time and to top the day off the boys caught their first fish, a 2 1/2ft Dorado...much to my dislike, especially after they both seemed oblivious to the blood splatters up their ankles and worst of all G had fish guts on his forehead! G is going to regret having a veggie on board!
Vessel Name: Long Reach
Vessel Make/Model: Manta 42 MKII
Hailing Port: Jersey, UK
Crew: Jo & Graham
Long Reach's Photos - Main
62 Photos
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Who: Jo & Graham
Port: Jersey, UK