We've spent so much of our mental energy in just getting to the Bahamas, we hadn’t really given much thought to where we would go once we had made the crossing. Our time on Bimini gave us a chance to relax and regroup.
Back in the States, moving around was a matter of deciding where we wanted to go and just going there. Here it’s a whole new world, gone are the protected waters of the ICW... This is where it gets real. We have to really PLOT our course and plan what we will do each day. And if we thought the weather was our master before… well, it’s really in control now.
Bruce and I had thrown together a sort of plan with the goal of eventually getting to New Providence to receive guests. The morning of our departure arrived and the weather report said our plan was caca! The west winds we thought we would have were gone... replaced winds out of the NNW which would make our planned stop at Morgan’s Bluff on Andros Island a rolly nightmare. So very quickly we took another look at the charts and possible reachable anchorages and revised our plan.
During dinner last night, we had a conversation about possible routes with another cruiser. He questioned our choice to go north around the top of Bimini. Well it’s “what everybody does” we said… But when we took another look at the charts, we realized that there was a southern route that looked just fine. Plus we wouldn’t have to motor into the forecast north winds…
Moments before we left the dock, we had a visit from Stephan, a temporary resident at Brown’s. He has been very friendly and helpful to everyone on the docks, but he became very agitated upon hearing our planned route. He said that he had 5 ft draft and had drug bottom endlessly going around the south of Bimini on his way here. Furthermore, he said that we should NOT sleep on the Banks as it’s dangerous and unpredictable. He had lost all of his ground tackle and nearly died trying it as the waves suddenly came out of nowhere. So as we shoved off I was having my doubts about our plan…
We left the slip at nearly low tide and turned towards the gap. There was a bit of swell as we favored the red side. There was one skinny spot (but we never bumped) just as we approached the second to last channel marker then the depths opened up and we turned south against all dire warnings from Stephan. At some point, each Skipper must separate the hysterical bla bla from rational fact, put on his/her Big-Sailor-Panties and trust your own ability to gather knowledge and plot your course. So that is just what we did...
Bruce raised sails and we switched the engine off! We were SAILING! We glided along past small islets, watching the rising sun sparkle on the deep blue water. We found the passage just past Triangle Rocks and nervously turned SE. For a while we picked our way but soon realized that the depths were good, averaging at least three feet above what was charted, even though it should be low tide. (I haven’t quite got the feel for the tides here yet)
We followed our route and spent the day tweaking sails and gawking at the beauty around us. Our cheeks are red with pinching as we are still just not quite sure that this is really US... HERE... sailing around in the Bahamas... FINALLY!!!
|Those white things we've been carrying around are getting some use!|
|North Cat Cay|
|Great Bahama Bank Awesomeness|
|Bruce and Jetsam hangin' out|
The cats became confused when the engine shut down... There was no noise and the boat is relatively calm and level... yet we're still moving! What a concept!
I can't tell you how glad we are that this was not traumatic for the cats. We have made so many decisions about when and where to go, based upon how it would affect our international feline passengers.
By mid-day, the winds became so light our speed dropped below four knots. We had to fall off course just to remain in motion so we decided to start the engine and motorsail for a while.
|Watching the bow wake|
|Hangin' out with my purring bundle of kitty-fuzz|
Only then it was different... we were uncertain of one another. We were just starting out with no idea where it would go... How amazing it is that THIS is where that blink of an eye in time would eventually lead. We thought back on all the things that had filled that 15 year gap between then and now... It all seemed to be building up to this one moment.
We enjoyed the sunset and a simple dinner, eagerly awaiting a green flash that didn't come.
|Somewhere on the Great Bahama Bank|
|Not a great pic but you get the gist of it|
We slept soundly until about 2 am. The winds came up suddenly, nothing bad, just enough to generate a stiff chop. We dozed the rest of the night after checking things out on deck...
We continued on in the deep water with no thought of what lie below us. All our time was spent keeping the boat going, trimming sails and watching the wind indicator.