26th December 2011     Leeward Yacht Club, Green Turtle Cay.

Well we made it by the skin of our teeth, but not quite how we had it planned when we last wrote.

Our weather guru had us psyched for a crossing last Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and so we left Vero (aka Velcro) Beach and our friends Lynn and Walter on ‘Iolar”on Monday 19th.. 

  We had an easy trip down the I C W to North Palm Beach leaving Vero at 07.00 and getting there at 16.20 hrs.  We refueled and went to what we thought might be our last berth/evening in the U S A for awhile.

Not to be …. old man weather had changed his mind and our window of opportunity for a safe and smooth passage across the Gulf Stream was getting closer and closer to Christmas.    Our friends Bill and Carol Dichter on “Interim” joined us at North Palm Beach marina ….  now they had left New York on the 27th September arrived in Lake Worth towards  the end of October and have been waiting for a weather window ever since.  Granted their situation is slightly different in that they are towing a 17’ skiff and have a sail boat without masts, so the motion in any sort of a seaway is horrible.

 So we waited !!!!  We rented one of Mr Hertz’s cars for 24 hrs so that the ladies could finish up their provisioning …  Catherine finally got her herb garden , the place that we used to get the plants on Tybee Island had closed over the summer, so “Solitaire 1” was not looking her normal green self .  Whilst the ladies were shopping and Bill drove them about with great patience, I spent my time preparing the boat as best as possible for the upcoming voyage.

We had a fantastic Hannukah dinner on board Interim....

Our window of opportunity arrived  on the 23rd so in the afternoon of the 22nd we motored down to our normal South Lake Worth anchorage for the night..  Having had  a delicious last lunch before leaving we did not need much supper and were in bed as early as 18.30 hrs.   Awake at 03.30 on the 23rd we got the anchor up at 04.10 hrs and left Lake Worth inlet to find a comparatively benign swell which got even more benign as we left the shores of the U S A and entered deeper water.   Once it got light we hoisted the main sail and motor sailed in fine fashion, getting onto the Bahama banks at  just before 13.00 hrs.
So long Palm Beach

A further smooth crossing to the  Great Sale Cay anchorage ( it is uninhabited can be bought and developed for around USD 9 million should any of you wish to invest!).  The anchor was down at 19.45  hrs , a quick chili and into bed ….  we need to be off at 04.00 in order to make sure and catch the Customs and Immigration lady at Spanish Cay , who was staying until 16.00 hrs and after that no clearance until after the Christmas holiday.
Now we know we really are in the Bahamas....KALIKS!
Very civilized customs clearing...'tis Christmas after all.
We arrived at Spanish Cay marina  at 11.20 and when we went to see the Customs lady she kindly led us all to the bar, where we had our first Kaliks and ordered our first grouper burgers so we filled out the various forms etc over cold beers….. Now how civilized is that !?
Had a leisurely lunch and then tried to undock without shore help.  Made a hash of it as the wind pushed us around somewhat and in the ensuing excitement poor Catherine’s hand got squished by one of the lines, which was caught in the dock.  Neither of us really know how it happened, but it did,  and it is hurting her quite badly.  We do not think that anything is broken but her left hand is somewhat bruised and very painful.
The wind had picked up quite substantially when we left Spanish Cay and in fact we could have had an absolutely brilliant sail, in different circumstances but we would have travelled too fast and only have had to anchor for longer at the entrance to Black Sound on Green Turtle Cay.  As it was we dropped the anchor at 15.45 to await the rising tide remaining so until 17.45 hrs when we entered the sound and docked at the marina with minimal difficulty.   So….  We made it for Christmas !!!

There was no cooking on Christmas Eve and so after getting the boat vaguely squared away we went to the Lizard Bar, much expanded since we were last here, and had a couple of rums and grilled lobster with Bill and Carol.  A wonderful feast to celebrate our safe arrival !!

Christmas morning dawned bright and sunny and our first visitors were Dick and Debbie from “Ars Grail” and our neighbours of last year, bearing delicious home baked Christmas cookies and cake, so special. After that we made up a ham and beans and left for the cruisers pot luck Christmas lunch in Bill and Carol’s 17’ skiff which had survived  its tow across the ocean in fine form.
Super D& D bearing good cheer and cookies....
Delicious...they disappeared very quickly...

What a feast awaited us and what fine cooks cruisers are! There was Jan’s wonderful lobster chowder, which she makes every year with lobsters that has herself caught…turkey, ham, pork tenderloin and all the trimmings ( but no brussel sprouts!!)  and all sorts of cakes and biscuits and such for dessert.  After all the feasting Brendal, around whose dive shop we had gathered provided Bahama Mammas for those who wanted and good and strong they were !!

To finish off  Christmas 2011, a quiet night well fed and sufficiently full not to need supper, and on that note I guess we shall leave you.  Undecided how long we shall remain here but it will be well into January undoubtedly. A suivre !

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