Sailing South on Solitude

John, Penni & Timmy

The Night Sail

We left right around 5. John had reasoned that if we didn't leave for Bimini now whilst the batteries are charged, then we would have to go back into Chub and leave on Wednesday. There are no stores in Chub so we would not get any further in solving our problems. We would still have to make the journey without a working alternator or generator. There was due to be some wind late evening and during the night so we had somewhat of a backup plan.
We readied the boat and set off immediately. I did not have any time to worry, we were off and I took the wheel as John had sworn the day trying to fix the generator.
The ocean was calm and there was a light wind. The tide must have been helping us because we were soon doing around 6 knots. There were clouds all around but it was not raining and we were heading towards brighter skies. John rested with Timmy and I felt at home on the wheel. I did note that we had averaged 6 knots in the first hour, but I wasn't counting down the hours, wishing the time away like I had when we first came to Bimini. We maintained 6 knots in the second hour. I was enjoying the calm seas, perfect temperature and having the sails assist, even if the engine was on. John decided that we would leave the engine on the whole time. He hd disconnected the alternator so that would not be draining the batteries. He had also rigged up the dinghy lights on the boat so our running lights would not drain the batteries either. We were aiming for Honeymoon Cove, but given the circumstances, we were hoping to keep going another hour to Bimini Cove Marina where we would be able to plug into electricity to charge the batteries.
As we approached the Northwest Shoal, our speed began to increase to 7 knots. John made sandwiches as I sailed on, noting how the depth changes from 150 feet to 20 feet in ten minutes.
After we had eaten, and just past 8:00, John took over and I went to bed. I had hoped to keep going until 9 so I would have done 4 hours, but it started to sprinkle and Timmy was ready for his bed. John slowed the engine to rely more on the sails. He was concerned that if we maintained 7 knots we would get to the Bimini area in the dark. There are shallows and shoals that are constantly shifting in that area. It will be better to do it in the light when we can see the changes in depth.
I settled down to rest. I did not even try to sleep. I woke at 10pm. Pretty good, I must have slept for about an hour. I rested again and must have fallen asleep because at 10:30, John woke me up by tapping me. He needed me in the cockpit. I didn't ask any questions, but got up quietly in the hope of letting sleeping dogs lie. The jib was missing a shackle at the bottom. John thought it must have worked loose and fallen overboard. I took the helm whilst he looked for a replacement and ended up taking some rope up to the foredeck to fix it. The wind was steady and the waves were low so I was not concerned for his safety. Whilst he was there, the whole boat lit up from behind. I imagined a huge ship looming behind us, but it turned out the moon had come out behind a cloud. Even when it is behind a cloud, the sky is a lot lighter than it was when we were heading towards Great Harbor at night. With no cloud cover the full moon makes it easy to see around us, even in the dark. John completed the task quickly and then insisted I should go back to bed for some more sleep. I felt a little guilty but the truth is he would be unable to sleep if I was at the helm alone. It's the same when I am driving.
So, I headed back to bed to cuddle up with a now indignant Timmy who had woken up and realized I was gone. I did not particularly sleep this time, but it felt good to rest my eyes and body. At one, I decided to take some chips up to John and give him a break. At 1:45, I got up to take John some chips and give him a break. The waves were a bit stronger, but still no chop. It took some adjusting to steer without a good marker to look at. It was cloudy so even the stars were no use. Still, looking at the phone was good enough. We were still going around 6 knots with the engine on low. We were heeling nicely. John made himself a coffee and then had a rest before I went back down at 3:15. I planned to get up at 5 so we could do the last couple of hours together. As if by magic, I woke up at 4:50. A few minutes later I heard the revs on the engine lower. I was not sure if that was John deliberately slowing the engine or more trouble on the way, so I got straight out of bed and headed up to the cockpit. We were already in the shallows around Cat Cay so John had slowed down. We had made great time. We could see black clouds surrounding us except for the way ahead. We kept our fingers crossed that we would not get a drenching in the last couple of hours. It was at this time the debate began. John wanted to go into Honeymoon Harbor - anchor, have breakfast, and ride out any storms there. I had wanted to go there too as we have heard sting rays swim up to your boat. However, I thought we had a chance to beat the storms if we went straight to Bimini. I wanted to be in a marina while the going was good and not risk our engine not starting. The decision was made when John plotted the course to Bimini and it was just over 5 miles. We should be there in an hour or less. So I got my way and we sailed to Bimini Cove Marina. I was still a little nervous because one of the cruisers had told me there was a fishing competition in Bimini this week and that all slots were pre booked by the organizers. We hoped that only applied to Bimini North. We motored into the marina at around 8am. We peered around the corner as soon as we could and saw plenty of slips available. Phew! We tied up easily, took Timmy for a walk, checked in and are now going to have breakfast and a sleep. John did the whole trip without any naps- I could not have done that. But, with naps, I have to say I really enjoyed our night motor sail. The conditions were perfect; full moon, low waves, steady wind and an engine that kept going.


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