Part II — March 11 and 12, 2014
Once we left West End the first order of business was to get through Indian Cut, a shallow and narrow 10 mile channel in the reef that would allow us to reach the protected waters of the Little Bahamas Banks.
As we approached the channel, the water depth went from 30 feet to 9 feet. We sounded our way through it trying to find the deepest water. That was often only 6 feet deep and we need at least 5 feet to pass through without going aground.
Bob was watching the colour of the water as he steered manually from waypoint to waypoint. Leo and I called out the depths from the depth sounder as we progressed.
It was hard not to be distracted by the clarity and colour of the water since it is very unusual to be anywhere in a sailboat and be able to see the bottom. Our friend Mike had promised “gin clear” waters and they were.
Once we got through the reef Leo took control of the boat and Bob fell asleep in the cockpit, staying nearby in case we needed him. He went out like a light and slept a good two hours. We were trying to make Great Sale Cay by dark.
Leo and I took turns having snoozes later. At about 4:00 pm, we were all ravenous. It was lovely and calm so I laid out some cheese, crackers, sausage, veggies, hard-boiled eggs and olives in the cockpit to take the edge off our appetites.
Once on the Banks, the water depth varied from 9 to 12 feet. In the mid afternoon, Leo and Bob set two lures out behind the boat. We were moving a bit too fast for fishing but they thought, “what the heck, why not give it a try?”
We arrived in the anchorage at Great Sale just as the sun was setting. We were the last in — there were already 10 boats there when we got there. We set the anchor and launched the dinghy in the dark. Charles was quickly loaded to go ashore for a bathroom break. It was starting to blow about 18 knots. The shore was rough with coral, and with the surf it would have destroyed our dinghy in 10 minutes had Bob landed the boat. So he had to turn around and come back to Windsong II. We felt so badly for poor Charles, he had been a great boy all day. We tried to convince him to go on the boat but he would not go. He seemed to understand the problem. He has gone on the boat before, so we knew he could do it.
We used the propane BBQ on the back of our boat to make hamburgers for the guys. (I had a salad and veggies since I’m no longer eating meat.) After dinner we collapsed in our bunks — we were so tired from lack of sleep and being out in the sun and wind for so long. The water was a bit lumpy that night but nothing was going to interfere with our sleep that night.
The wind began to pick up again before dawn on Wednesday morning. We were all up at daybreak. Mike called on the radio, itching to go, because bad weather was coming. We had to leave without taking Charles ashore.
The weather forecast called for two days of high winds. The closest harbour that would provide protection was Green Turtle Cay, about 50 nautical miles away. We needed to get there before dark.
We were travelling in an easterly direction over the banks with a strong south wind, so the wind was on our beam, the best point of sail. We motored for a while and then pulled out our jib. The boat stood up and took off. The winds were 22 to 28 knots.. Our boat has a maximum hull speed of 7.1 knots, but we were surfing down waves at 8.5 knots. It was an amazing sail — we all had wide grins. Leo, our resident speed demon, took great pleasure in calling out our speed as we went along.
We motorsailed like that almost all day. When the gusts got bigger in the late afternoon, we reduced the sail size a bit, but not enough, so we blew the leach line out of our sail. What that means is that the stitching on the seam along the back of the sail let go. This was probably due to sun damage over 10 years since the jib was original to the boat.
Bob could fix something like this with his special Sailrite sewing machine, which unfortunately is in the truck back in Florida. (Next time we will know better and bring it with us!) However there is a sail maker nearby on Man o War Cay. We will bring it by and have it fixed by him.
It was another long day and we made it to Green Turtle Cay.
Next instalment: waiting out the weather in Green Turtle Cay.
Note to my fellow bloggers: I deeply regret that I’m not able follow your adventures and blogs right now and send you my comments. Our Internet service is so limited and unpredictable that I have only been able to publish a few blog posts and send a few emails. I’ve managed a few “likes” on Facebook but that’s about it. But know I am thinking of you and I so appreciate all your kind comments. When we get back to Florida, I will so look forward to catching up with all your posts and images. It will be like gorge fest for me!