A Wild Ride
25 December 2010
We wake up to a pleasant, if still somewhat blustery morning in Fraziers' Hog Cay. Winds have been strong but they've moderated somewhat and are coming from the north - we're hoping to head south east towards Nassau. It's a 35 mile run to Nassau but across a very deep and potentially rough piece of water known as "tongue of the ocean". We're anxious to get under way and there's a lot of chatter on the marine radios about conditions. A boat which has left earlier reports reasonable conditions; 17 to 20 knots with four foot seas with occasional higher waves. Sounds good to us so away we go. Not long after we're underway we hear the aforementioned boat calling back to report that conditions have gotten more challenging as they've left the lea of the Berry Islands and it's becoming brisk. Yeah, it sure does get wild and we're seeing winds well in excess of 20 with big seas; every few minutes we are lifted on a series of three 10 footers which pick the boat up, deposit her down the next trough and repeat the process. It is quite scary.
Poor old Chopin is being buffeted about down below but we won't let him up into the cockpit. Judy tries to stay below with him but things are flying around in the cabin. At one time, we hear an almighty crash when the oven door opens and ejects all of the tin plates we store there. It's not much fun and there's no turning around; we're committed.
We are in good company and there are quite a few boats making the same passage today and we're in close proximity to Audacious. The good news is that we're flying along at more than 7 knots.
After several hours we near Nassau and the end of this challenging passage is in sight. Nassau harbour is busy and there are many cruise ships and other traffic entering and exiting the main channel which has a very narrow entrance. On approaching the entrance, boats must call Nassau Harbour Control to request permission to enter. This is really perfunctory and gives the controller a way of knowing what's coming in and out. Audacious has already entered; they were a couple of miles ahead of us. I call in and get permission to enter. Just a few more minutes an we'll be out of these wild seas and strong winds and into the harbour. A minute later, Nassau Harbour Control calls me back to tell me that a cruise ship will be leaving the harbour and we'll have to stand off - remain outside until they are on their way. Just what we needed to hear. So we've got to make circles under motor outside the harbour, still in big seas waiting for this behemoth to leave so we can get in. Judy astutely asks me if I know in what direction they're going to go once they've left the harbour, as we're not far from the entrance. I call back Harbour Control to ask where they'll be heading and she asks me my current location. I tell her we're near the jetty at the entrance and she tells me "come in now and make it speedy". I don't need any more coaxing and I put all the power our 37 horsepower Yanmar can produce and make it into the harbour just as the cruise ship is casting off.
We made it is safe and sound but we need to decompress. We decide to take a dock space tonight rather than anchor and make our way to Nassau Harbour Club where we are assigned a slip.
What a day!