Drama Drama All Around
12 February 2015 | Black Point, Exumas, Bahamas
It feels great to be across the Gulf Stream and safely in the Bahamas. "The Stream" is always a tough weather forecasting problem - trying to make sure that you have wind out of the south so that it doesn't build up the steep seas created when north wind opposes the north flowing current. The problem is trying to fit between cold fronts that create the north wind. We squeezed it in nicely. There actually were some north winds, but they followed several hours of calm winds so the stream was rather benign.
After a few relaxing days in North Bimini, we were ready to tackle the next leg of our trip to the Exumas. The route to the west side of New Providence Island (Nassau) would be a new one for us. We planned out an overnight across the northern part of the Great Bahama Banks - down the Northwest Channel and into the west side of New Providence Island - West Bay. A 1 PM departure worked perfectly, and we arrived in West Bay at about 11 AM the following morning. West Bay served as a quick pit stop on our way to the the Exumas. We needed to get there in time to get coverage from the next cold front that was due to arrive in 24 hours.
Unfortunately, the following day, we got "a bit" of a late start - spent way too much time socializing with fellow cruisers who did the overnight with us. We were thinking - "no big deal - only 45 miles to go - and we end up in a marina - how much of a hurry do we need to be in?" Well - we knew there was a cold front coming. We weren't too aware of the squalls that can proceed a cold front. An hour out from Highbourne Cay we were literally swallowed by a squall. Fortunately, we saw it coming and got our sails down, our foul wether gear on and Casey down below before we were hit by rain and 30 mph winds. The marina at Highbourne Cay suggested that we slow down a bit as the entrance to their harbor was very rough with wind opposing current - see previous discussion on the Gulf Stream. Great - we're happy to slow down and spend some more time out here with 30 mph winds and rain. The marina actually gave us great advice. By the time we entered, the entrance was nice and calm, and we had no issues getting into our slip.
It felt nice to be in North Bimini - to have made the Gulf Crossing and be in the Bahamas. It feels even better to be in the Exumas - a spectacular chain of islands that is a destination for many cruisers. We promised ourselves that we would do a better job this year with weather and getting ourselves in a position to weather the elements a day before we needed to be there. Being tucked into Highbourne Cay was the first part of that. While we aren't big on going into marinas, this was a good call.
Unfortunately, there's been a little more drama around us. Two nights ago there was a big cold front that came through. We were safely on a mooring in Warderick Wells. A boat up in Allens Cay (pronounced "key") lost their dinghy. The poor dinghy is probably 50 miles away on Eleuthera. Another boat at Emerald Rock broke free from their mooring at 4 AM. Fortunately, they were awake, noticed that they had broken free, and were able to get the engine started and anchored safely. Another boat down at Farmer's Cay wasn't as lucky. They dragged their anchor and ended up on a beach. They had the bad fortune of hitting a small piece of coral on the beach which put a hole in their hull at the waterline. Salvage operations are still underway.
All quick reminders that while we are cruising in Paradise - this is actually very serious stuff.