2010.12.18 The Bahamas

 18th December 2010.

The Bahamas at last!!!

If memory serves us aright we left you when we were on the way from St Augustine to Vero Beach.  We had uneventful days motoring down the ICW through Daytona, and Titusville to Vero Beach. 
Uneventful except that we went into marinas in each place so that we could plug in and use our heat pump, since the temperatures in Florida have been absolutely frigid!

We were lucky to get a berth , rather than a mooring ball , at Vero, enabling us to plug in once again and enjoy warmth, since the cold weather did not let up.  It was mainly O K when the sun was up but as soon as it went down you needed warm clothes and some heat in the boat.

We stayed in Vero Beach for six days allowing our friends on “Lady of Lorien” to catch up with us , as we intended to travel together across the Gulf Stream.  In actuality we lost nothing in the way of time since there was not a safe window to be had whilst in Vero Beach.  It is a nice marina and a nice town with free public transportation to all the main shopping areas that a cruiser would normally need to reach.   Publix….  Fresh Market….  West Marine and ABC liquors where 1.5 ltre bottles of  Appleton Estate Rum went for $23.50 and similar sized bottles of Bombay Sapphire Gin went for $ 21.00 per bottle !!   A good place to stock up.  We have also been turned on to boxed wines the equivalent of four bottles for $19.00 of very drinkable every day Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon .

Eventually all shopping was completed , no more space in the boat and a window to cross was approaching , so at 06.30 hrs on the 15th December (son in law, Jamie’s birthday) we left Vero Beach for Lake Worth. 
Vero Beach..I love taking sunrises through bridges
A fast and trouble free trip, once more down the ICW saw us shave an hour off the time that we did the same trip the previous year, all the bridges cooperated and opened as advertised then a quick stop in North Palm Beach to top up our diesel.  I like to start an ocean passage with a full tank of fuel….  Topping up was not really necessary, just a case of “belt and braces” !!!

Lady of Lorien raising sails in Lake Worth anchorage to meet up with us
No belly showing this year...just classy lines
Then from North Palm Beach it was a quick hop to Lake Worth where at 16.00 hrs, e hailed  Mike and Angie on “Lady of Lorien” so they were  just coming out of the anchorage as we went by, and we were off out of the inlet and into the ocean.   What a difference a year makes!!   
 Last year with “Indian Summer” you might recall that both boats were leaping out of the water and showing their keels for the first couple of hours, not so this year however .  A nice long six odd foot swell gave us a nice gentle roll and with a NE to ENE 10/12 knot wind both sails were up and we romped along  at  7.00/7.5 and even 8.00 knots – just great !! 
Sun setting over  Palm Beach on the horizon.
Happiness is SAILING at last!!!
While David sails I navigate....this is my turf, the nav table.
The wind held pretty much most of the way and the swell also decreased the closer to the Bahama bank that we got, until we had to furl the genoa and haul in the main tight to steady us .   The long and the short of it was that we made the Gulf Stream crossing from 16.00 hrs on Wednesday 15th until midnight thirty on Thursday 16th morning when we crossed onto the Bahamian banks.  A record crossing for us!!

The Bahamian banks were their typical selves, flat calm and as clear as a bell.   About 03.00 both boats saw a bright white light on the horizon, looking very much like a large fishing boat or such and heading our way.   We maintained a watch on it until we discovered that instead of getting closer it was getting higher……  yes, we had seen the planet Mars rise above the horizon !!  Looked just like a ship at first too !!

Our first Bahamian sunrise of the season...may not look so special but after a long dark night it is a welcomed sight.

Our course took us direct from Memory Rock to Little Sale Cay which was passed at 07.00 hrs as the sun came up, our first real landfall since the skyscrapers of Palm Beach had disappeared below the horizon.   We pressed on to Spanish Cay, where we docked at 12.30 hrs after a perfect 31 hour voyage.   Customs and Immigration were seen and gave us no problems although we only got permission to stay in the Bahamas for 90 days as opposed to our normal 120 days,  we shall have to extend if we need to, but that should not be a big deal.  After all the formalities were completed we retired to the bar where we had our first Kaliks and blackened grouper with a Caesar salad….  Just as good as we remembered !!

Fiddled in the afternoon and then went to “Lady of Lorien” for drinks and a “picky” supper, my personal favourite, cheese, biscuits, some raw veggies and peanuts, smoked salmon and a delicious “stollen” cake etc. By eight pm our eyes were closing so it was off to bed – we were asleep before our heads hit the pillow and the next thing that we knew it was 07.30 the next morning and “Lady of Lorien” were getting ready to depart for Orchid Bay on Great Guana Cay where they were meeting other friends and spending Christmas, about two islands down from where we will spend Christmas and New Year.
Lady of Lorien cast off early in the morning.

We waved good bye to Mike and Angie...

After they left we had a very private marina....
 After a very lazy morning and we cast off just after 13.00 hrs to head to Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay  which we have to enter on high tide or very close thereto.  It was an idyllic 15 mile trip in a gentle southerly breeze and rippled sea, with the sun shining brightly and warmly.  Catherine reclined on the deck, whilst I pulled out the Genoa, reduced the engine revs and we gently motor sailed along.  Entry to Black Sound was accomplished without excitement and various friends were there to greet us and to help us tie up.  As you can see from one of the pictures this marina is getting very classy with staff in blazers and white shirts !!

Adrian and Kristi of the Leeward Yacht Club.
A nice evening on board with our friends from “Gone Away” who came to Green Turtle to see us and then bed.   This morning we launched the dinghy and put the engine on, which started, not exactly at first pull, but very soon there after, so now our car is once more up and running.   The weather today has been cooler and somewhat threatening although so far no rain, but there is some in the forecast.  We don’t mind as it will wash a fair amount of the salt off “Solitaire 1” and save us the job of doing so and having to pay for the water that we use!
As the days progress we shall gradually get back into the swing of island life – work a bit on the boat – read – walk on the various beaches – talk to friends – make new ones and generally relax.  On Christmas Day there is a cruiser’s pot luck luncheon put on by one of the local dive shops that we shall likely go to- should be a fun event.

I think that this brings everyone who is reading this up to date with what we have been doing.  One thing that have been pleased with so far is that we have not plugged in to the electricity since leaving Vero Beach…     the fridge has been running perfectly and all our systems are working and the solar panels and the wind generator are keeping our new AGM batteries fully charged.  Long may it last !!

That’s it for me, now over to our photographer and editor in chief !

All I have to add is after drinks and wonderful conversation on Gone away with Harvey and Mary Helen, I am pleased to report that the skipper's prediction turned out to be accurate and Soli is, as we speak, getting a great fresh water shower as it is raining cats and dogs .

Our Titusville blue heron
Going out for lunch


1 comment:

elisabeth said...

Three cheers for self-sustaining power! Congrats on the smooth crossing. Love the pictures as always.

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