2009.12.31 We made it !!!!

North Lake Worth anchorage , in company with eleven (count ‘em) Canadian boats, many awaiting a suitable window to cross the feared Gulf Stream. To imagine this anchorage, imagine a bay, with a line of condominiums down one side and at their base a couple of marinas for the rich and famous, with mega yachts lined up side by side…

“Privacy” belonging to Tiger Woods was also there (with her name covered up for “real” privacy). Continue around the bay to a small beach where the cruisers land their dinghies and wade ashore to walk the dog or finish up their shopping. Moving around to the other side you have large mansions with gardens and lawns leading down to the water. That gives you a reasonable picture of where we spent the last couple of days - not such a bad spot !!. Last minute shopping by the ladies over a two day period, whilst yours truly stayed and fiddled. Our travelling companions also walked their dog, which has to be a living breathing advertisement for a real boat dog !! Ruger (named, we understand, after the pistol) you rock !!!

On the thirtieth afternoon all preparations were made and we left the north anchorage and anchored again in the south anchorage off Palm Beach (Nothing like north Lake Worth, but still with large mansions on the one side and large shipyards and the commercial dock on the other) ready for the appropriate time to leave .

On our way near the inlet we saw a fine example of the pride of the British navy  The Bounty...on a more modest but not less endearing manner..Catherine's favorite a tug boat!

All indications were that the best window was this morning ….. Sirius weather from “Indian Summer” we talked to our weather guru Chris Parker on the SSB and we all listened to NOAA weather on the VHF…. All seemed to be in agreement – an early morning start was indicated.

Supper was early … we were in bed by eight o’clock and up and about at 02.30 hrs on the 31st raring to go. If we had not gone then, indications were that we would not be able to leave for at least a week. The dinghy was lashed securely to the deck, all opening ports and hatches tightly closed and all mooring lines and fenders stowed , everything below was secured – we were as ready as we ever would be for sea!! However….. and there’s always a however, I must remember to close the seacock for the forward sink, Catherine found seawater spouting up the drain every time the forward end of the boat came out of the water as we pitched!!!!

Anchors were away at 03.30 hrs and we were on our way out of Lake Worth inlet, an easy commercial inlet well lit. The tide was coming in and progress to put it mildly was slow……. Violent pitching and pounding (that’s when the whole bottom of the boat comes out of the water and lands with a crash and a shudder on the next swell) … not particularly dangerous but decidedly uncomfortable. We could not believe our speed (or lack of it)…. “Indian Summer” saw 1.9 knots and we did not fare much better…. I don’t think that we ever got below two knots but not far off !!!!

As you may imagine it took forever for the lights and the sea buoy at the entrance to the inlet to fade into the distance, but as we made it into deeper water and when the echo sounder stopped recording the depth (after 500 feet), the swells got less steep and we just pitched and rolled with not a bad motion. We still shipped water over the deck and went up and down but were in no difficulty. Speed also increased to something over four knots but each time we hit a swell the boat tended to stand still, shake herself and plow on, but we had lost a knot or so !!

With the dawn and a bright sun we unrolled a very small part of the genoa in order to try and improve our speed, (the wind being very close to dead ahead), which it did, for at the speed we were making previously we would not have arrived before late evening and in the dark. Although we know the West End harbour entrance, this, we did not wish to do, thus out with a little more genoa and as the sea and swell gradually decreased our speed gradually picked up and we started averaging our more normal seven knots or so. We did not find the Gulf Stream as strong we have in the past, probably only about two knots rather than the advertised three or more.

The afternoon was magical… bright sun, blue skies with wispy high cirrus clouds, a southerly wind and a cheerful boat relishing the weather. No worries !!

We arrived in West End at three thirty, a long voyage (twelve hours) compared to our previous trips across the Gulf Stream in eight or nine hours, but we made it !!! There were several boats also making the run and some who chose not to for various reasons, Unfortunately those who chose not to may have to wait for a week or more before another window shows itself, all something to do with the El Nino effect according to our guru, but we had had enough of Florida and really wanted to be in the Bahamas sooner rather than later. Others, more adventurous, bypassed West End and went onto the Bahamas banks immediately so will be that much further ahead of us, for the weather is supposed to turn nasty again and we may be here for a couple of days, but with the pool, the beach and good company it cannot not be bad !!!

After our arrival it was off to the Customs and Immigration office to check in, forms to fill out and passports to be stamped – cleared in we gave our faithful chariot a nice fresh water wash to try and get at least some of that corrosive salt off . More will be done in the morning, but her crew also has needs too….. a good shower to wash the salt off us and a couple of rums to celebrate our arrival !!!

C put this champers in the fridge while underway..it will wait until tomorrow!

I fear that we are unlikely to see the New Year in, other than in our cozy bunk, for it has been a long and tiring day, but we are here at long last and we have a visa for the next four months should we choose to use it !
Our first Bahamian sunset..

And our firt sunrise

2010.01.01 Westend

While the newly retired skipper slept in I had to go for a walk on the beach and catch my first sunrise.
I got a pic of the"buddies" enjoying a well desrved rest after yesterday's passage.

An egret or something close to one was enjoying the peaceful morning with me

Came home with 6 freshly caught lobsters I bought from a fisherman and made David the first breakfast of his new life... Happy retirement!!!

Next is Great Sale Cay anchorage and then either Green Turtle or Manjack (pronounced Munjack) Cay, and finally to Hope Town where we have many friends awaiting our arrival. After that who knows ???

To each and every one of our readers wherever you may be, the trusty crew of the good sailing vessel “Solitaire 1” wants to wish you a wonderful New Year, may it be filled with peace, happiness and good health and now before I start getting too maudlin and the rum starts to talk I will wish you all a very good night!.

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