I forgot a few other juicy tidbits relating to our last post while traversing Bahamian waters. Two notable memories – aside from the incredibly clear water and raucous sea conditions, again due to remainders of T.S. Arthur. We sailed (not only motored) most of the way, making decent speed toward Freeport, the final Bahamian exit point. Now reviewing back to our log, I recall additional, perhaps interesting detail for this blog. Can you believe we completely filled our logbook!? Thank you, Nic! For the additional spiral notebook.
On any lengthy passage I’m often lounging in the cockpit enjoying the ride, staring at the horizon, and attempting to stay shaded as we glide along, noticing the azure emptiness, completely out of sight of land. I frequently tweak sails, always alert to wave patterns and wind changes. Peaceful indeed – it’s my happy place. Aside from electronics, we know we aren’t too far from land by simple signs – color of water, cloud formations, and by the birds. Boobies in particular often circle around Fayaway, following along, attracted by the fish evidently in-turn attracted by our dark shadowy mass, which from deep below perhaps appears as another larger marine animal, swimming more slowly near the surface.
I’d been trailing a lure every day through the Bahamas, at least when over deeper water, well offshore. We purchased sushi-making supplies in Culebra, anticipating something fishy to eat. A cruising friend promised “great fishing!” along our anticipated route. However, we seemed to have more luck catching anything but fish. Seaweed especially loves our purple lure – for sure!
So I watch the birds circling, at first two, then sometimes more would join, especially if others nearby perceived success by the early adopters. Usually they are smart enough to recognize my lure is not a fish. But others are not so intelligent and in that case I’d try to scare them away and reel in the line to avoid any mishap.
On another occasion I was down below when alerted by a squawking ruckus outside. A bird was being dragged by my line! Its distraught mate flew closely behind, and both were understandably quite upset. A few quick shakes of the line were able to free the struggling bird. Phew!
Of course, our goal was to simply head north – ultimately pointing a direct line to New England, but we never got that chance, one that had more than 2 to 3 days of relatively clean weather. So we made shorter hops, as far as the weather would allow.
Checking weather frequently we were watching more messy stuff, of course, heading in our direction. Early on the morning of 24 May, Chris Parker said this:
WEATHER SYNOPSIS FOR SAT23 NIGHT:
Lifting N from NW Caribbean Sat23 night thru W Cuba Sun24 / much of Florida Mon25-Mon25 night, then probably moves NE, shifting to E of FL Tue26 / waters off SE US and N FL Wed27 / into Carolinas Thu28. Will bring strong wind generally veering E<S-SW with widespread/numerous strong to severe T-strms (easily 40k) to the following areas/times (I would AVOID moving in these areas at these times).
Excerpt from log, 24May 1000 hrs: 30.07.5N / 79.37.8W, SOG6kt, BRG012, Wind SE@10kt. AFTER much research, to avoid new LOW forming. We determined we couldn’t make it around Hatteras without good chance of being hit, so looked at options like Cape Lookout, NC (just south of Hatteras), Charleston, and even further south if needed.
We were making way nicely into and up with the warm gulf stream. But with this latest forecast of unpleasant weather, we altered bearing toward Beaufort, SC., as it appeared to offer easiest access. While pleased to make it somewhere, this passage took us along the speedy Gulf Stream (orange) to an initial US landfall, far short of our last goal (upper right, Beaufort, NC.)
Later that day, at 1820hrs, around 75 nm offshore from South Carolina we decided to stop the boat, as we’d realized we were moving too fast (thank you Gulf Stream). We wanted to arrive in daylight the next morning, and I took full advantage of the calm pleasant conditions to check the engine vitals and prepare dinner – stir-fried rice, with fresh cabbage, onions and black beans (sorry, no fish). We were seriously considering a swim into the clear, warm azure water when we received a friendly visit. A dozen or so (pod of) dolphins circled us, curiously watching us as we walked about Fayaway’s deck, and as sat for dinner. Some would roll their heads, floating together with eyes on us, as we spoke to them. They eventually wandered off about 45 minutes later. It was also soon time for us to be moving along.
To summarize, after rounding and leaving the Bahamian west coast of Grand Bahama, and almost daily alterations due to weather, we arrived safely in Beaufort, SC on May 25th at 1000. A total of 1,412 nautical miles (from our start in Culebra) in 14 days, for an average of 100 nautical miles per day. We briefly anchored at four Bahamian islands for nasty weather avoidance, and docked only for diesel fuel, but never to set foot on land. Thanks go to the Bahamian government for allowing our “safe passage” through their territory, as well as to the SaltyDawg volunteers who corresponded with various government officials. Let’s not forget the fuel dock workers who kindly assisted our obtaining additional fuel, and ultimately helping us return “home”
While I have several more posts simmering in the draft pile, I’ve decided to break from writing about our dwindling travels, at least until we again depart for foreign lands (hence travel). Presently we sit at anchor in a quiet little cove, in a small creek north of Annapolis, Maryland, as we contemplate the likelihood of continuing our quest to visit the world by sailboat. Until fear of contagion subsides sufficiently, it’s difficult to plan further voyages to foreign lands, which is the intended fodder for this blog. Thanks for reading, and do stay subscribed for when we do continue. Please stay safe, but also enjoy some of your own adventure, and above all – be the solution in all your activities to make this world a better place.
Bonus video: dolphin visit.