Monday, February 13, 2017

Hello, Bahamas!

We left the mooring in Ft. Lauderdale at 10:10am yesterday and we docked at Great Harbour Cay Marina in the Bahamas' Berry Islands today at 9:50am. It was a nice, easy crossing with somewhat choppy confused seas in the Gulf Stream for only the first couple hours...after that it was darned near lake sailing. Ahem, make that lake motorsailing. There was only enough southerly wind to sail for a few hours late last night, and then only because we had picked up a rocketing fair current that was going to put us in way too early. After a while that wind, too, faded and veered northwest so we again motor sailed at low RPMs. I didn't want to get to the last shallow part of the banks before 9am - any earlier and the sun would be in our eyes, making water reading impossible. In any case the approach was pretty straightforward, and once inside the entrance cut the harbor was nice and calm, making docking easy.

The "S-turn" planning for the Gulf Stream crossing worked really well. We started out at 135 degrees for the first hour and then held the 117 degree magnetic heading that I calculated would compensate for average 2.5 knot drift (vs. TC of 94 degrees M). As we got into the strongest part of the stream - 3.7 to 4.5 kts - it set us from 1.4 miles south of the rhumb line to nearly two miles north, but then as the current faded we were able to easily lay the Great Isaac waypoint. From there we turned southeast on a 122 degree course and picked up that nice tail current that more than made up for our slower-than-planned Gulf Stream crossing (only 40 mins longer than planned, actually).

We had several cruise ships pass quite close by during the evening and early night, and early this morning I had to divert about 30 degrees starboard to avoid a freighter that was on a direct collision course. Our other close encounter was much more serendipitous - we met Sea Turtle coming out of Great Harbour Cay cut! This is the Island Packet that was Windbird's dockmate in Myrtle Beach; her skipper & Admiral, Lee & Linda Kaufman, are friends of Mark & Judy Handley going back some 30 years and buddy boated with them in the Bahamas in 2015. So it was neat to have the two boats pass.

After docking we cleaned up the boat and waited for customs, who came straightaway from their usual post at the airport. I had already filled out all our paperwork, which made clearance quick and painless. After hoisting the Bahamian flag on our starboard spreader we took a quick walk around the marina and environs, ate lunch, I had a one-hour nap, and then we took the dinghy back outside & around the point to Bullock's Harbour settlement where we walked around & enjoyed ice cream cones. The school kids were just getting out for the day and it was hilarious watching them react to Piper. Many were genuinely frightened by him - the least threatening dog ever - but we were able to coax some into petting him. I'm guessing the kids here are more used to aggressive guard dogs than coddled pets. After coming back I did some planning anchorages for the next few days and then we went to a cruisers potluck here at the marina.

Our plans to spend a little time cruising the Berries have been complicated a bit by an unsettled weather forecast for Weds-Thurs (cold front passage). I'll be up at 6:30am to listen to Chris Parker tomorrow morning & then we'll decide where exactly we'll anchor for the next few days.



  1. Congrats Sam and Dawn! Happy to see a successful crossing. Read your flying blog site well as your column in Flying but this new adventure I've really enjoyed reading abt. A far cry from the grass strip at Stanton but all the romance just the same. Excited to see what's next!

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  3. Glad you had a nice safe crossing! Have fun!!!

  4. Congratulations! Fun to follow your adventures as we're landlocked in ND. Great pictures by the way.

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