The BAHAMAS at last
21 April 2012 | West End, Grand Bahamas
Sylvia - gray and WINDY!!!
We decided to do an over night to West End, Grand Bahama because we needed to get there at high tide which was either 0711 in the morning or around 1900 in the evening. Sunrise was at 0645 so the decision was easy. We would get there by sunrise and have high tide and there would be lots of daylight if we needed it.
My cousin Beth and her husband Tom came down to see us off. John a single hander on his new to him 26' Seaward named Luna had come by earlier and we discussed kind of crossing over together. We would be going much faster then he and wouldn't be able to slow down because of our high tide entrance needs but we might be able to keep in touch by radio for a while (as it turned out that didn't happen). At 1900, Beth and Tom helped us cast off the lines and we were on our way around the south end of Peanut Island and heading for the Lake Worth Inlet. John cast off soon after us but went around the north end of the island (his draft allowed that) and he saw us after he rounded it. I never saw Luna but Bill did at least for a while. However, that was the last we saw or heard from him for the rest of the trip.
We had to motor the whole way across because of the SE winds on the nose at 15-20kts. The Gulf Stream runs north and is about 30 miles wide between Lake Worth and West End which prevented us from going straight across the 47 or so miles. Instead we had to head SE and let the stream continuously push us north as we headed SE. By the time we exited the stream we were basically due W of where our inlet would be. With the wind and the 2-4' seas it was not a comfortable ride - not dangerous and there were no squalls along the way - just not comfortable. Spanker spent the whole night in the cockpit again - the little sailor that she has become. We arrived near the West End inlet just at dawn and had to motor around for about 45 minutes waiting for full sunrise and high tide. The entrance was very easy and as we found out we could have come in from mid to high tide easily. But this way we had three boats that were coming out as we were going in so they gave us a good idea of where we would be going after getting through the inlet.
Oh, how exciting it was to finally get here after all of this time. We tied up to the west wall of the Old Bahama Bay Resort and Marina and hoisted our yellow quarantine flag as well as the Bahamas courtesy flag. We were right by the customs office and the customs officer checked us in right then before he had to go to the airport. Fifteen minutes and $300 later all the paper work was filled out and stamped and we were here legally - all 3 of us. We then moved to a slip and settled in for some naps. The weather was beautiful as is the marina but sleep won out over checking things out. That would have to wait a few hours.
Mid-afternoon I got on the SAT phone and called the Bahamas number we have for John and Joan on Changing Lanes. They were only about 5 miles away crossing the bank at low tide and having a fun time of it. There were no problems but they took some deep breaths a few times when looking at their depth meter. We were there kitty corner across the docks to greet them when they arrived. What joy to finally meet up with them as we had planned even though they are leaving and we are just arriving in the Bahamas. We will just have to pick their brains and learn of their experiences and enjoy them while we can.
John the single hander on Luna arrived around 1600. He had been only going about 2.5kts in the stream and had finally just headed NE to Memory Rock to use the stream and get out of it as quickly as he could without having to fight it and then dropped down to West End. We didn't know if he had turned around and gone back or had kept on coming. After 21 hours he was tired but happy to be here. We were glad to see him.
The local bread maker and a lobster diver came by. We joined the Lanes in buying some fresh lobster tails and still warm white, coconut and banana breads. The crews from Changing Lanes, Luna and Eos then had an absolutely lovely lobster, tossed salad, rice and fresh baked island bread dinner. What could be better than that. It was an early night though since all of us were tired from our passages.
Several more boats came in during the rest of the afternoon and the next morning. There is a big bad weather system here now and everyone was trying to get here before it arrived. Berthed next to us is a lovely Hans Christian owned by Nick and Karen who have sailed her over the years from WA to the West Coast of Florida. This is their first time in the Bahamas, however, so we will have another newbie to share info and hopefully anchorages with the next several weeks. They draw 6 ½' and will be looking at some of the same places and routes as we will be.
While John on Luna was sailing over he caught about a 3' wahoo and filleted it on his afte solar panel. Last night's dinner was wahoo fixed Newfoundland style. John was headed out early this morning (0400) to try to get around the corner and on to Freeport/Lucaya before things really get bad. We haven't seen him returning so hopefully he made it. He was such a great and interesting guy - a fireman/EMT from CA who does all kinds of adventuresome things (free diving, mountain climbing (climbed Mt. McKinley with his grandfather at 9 and still holds the record for the youngest to scale it), sailing, and such). He only has a couple of more weeks of vacation and then must put Luna on a trailer and head back to CA. It will be fun to keep in touch with him and what he is up to in the future.
We are now settled in here for several days as are many other boats - 10 sailboats and two mini mega-yachts. A thunderstorm just missed us last night but there may be more around. It is gray and very windy - steadily over 20kts and we can see the cresting seas over the break-wall but we are safely nestled in and are looking forward to spending time with the Lanes as well as the new folks we have met here. It will probably be mid-week before the Lanes get a window to cross over to the States and we find a window to scoot around the island to Lucaya which is just past Freeport. How very happy we are to be here!!!
(Just checked as I was posting this and the winds are over 30kts now. Sure glad we got here when we did; it would have been another week waiting for weather. It is much more fun to wait for it here!)