Bahamas cruise in monochrome…

god rays

The last weeks cruising the Abacos, Bahamas, have felt much longer — they’ve stretched like elastic as our days have unfolded organically and naturally.

We have molded our course to the wind and the weather and are now waiting for a good window to cross back to Florida on Windsong II.

Here are some images that stick with me — and just seem to  call out for monochrome treatment.

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Waiting for weather…

bob and sherry green turtle cay

Out here cruising on the sailboat, you’re always looking at the weather!

So it was that we saw a front coming and headed for safe harbour at Green Turtle Cay, an island three and a half miles long and a half mile wide, with 450 inhabitants.

There are two sounds that provide protected anchorages at Green Turtle — and we are most familiar with White Sound, which also offers mooring balls for $20 a night.

So we left Crab Cay early in the day with Tranquilizer and arrived just in time to pick up the last two. The wind had already piped up so it was a bit of a challenge to pick one up — also it had no pennant to grab — so it would have required lifting a 40 pound ball and chain, not an easy manoeuvre.

Luckily, a considerate Canadian fellow saw us and came over in his dinghy to give us a hand.

On the good weather days we rented a golf cart and toured the island, showing Beatrice and Marco some of our favourite spots and beaches and picking up some essential supplies in New Plymouth, the settlement — rum and coconut bread! We visited Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, home of the Goombay Smash, and had one — one was enough! (Another day we went to Pineapples and had a copycat smash — and it was even stronger!)

While we were at Miss Emily’s, young Garrison came along looking forlorn. I asked him what was wrong and he said he had nobody to play basketball with — there were no kids on the court.

Marco, being a kind and sweet man — also 6 foot 5 inches –volunteered to have a go. Afterwards Garrison came inside to have a look at our cameras. I really wish I had had a polaroid at that moment to give him. What a sweetheart!

marco and garrison

garrison

On bad weather days, we hunkered in the sailboat and watched the wind cause its havoc. One day Bob observed a family of four in a dinghy that appeared to be flailing in the sound. Their motor had stopped working and they were clinging to the pilings on a dock. It didn’t take him long to jump into our dinghy and go see if he could give them a tow. They happily accepted and Bob delivered them back to their cat. We all try to help each other out here.

bob being towboat

Bob towing disabled dinghy

Scenes from Green Turtle…

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pano green turtle beach

Atlantic side beach — the beaches were all ours!

Island Hopping (2)…

Windsong II and Tranquilizer left our slips in West End about 8:00 am on Wednesday, March 16 heading for Great Sale Cay. We motored about 25 minutes and entered a narrow shallow cut in the coral called Indian Cay Passage. The passage took one and a half hours.

While motoring slowly, we used our depth sounder and chart plotter to find the deepest water to go through and watched the bottom only inches from our keel — just over five feet. Having done this last year and the year before, we kept our previous tracks, and these gave us confidence. We were on an incoming tide so if we did get stuck we would just have to wait for the tide to lift us off. Once through, we where on the Little Bahamas Banks — 10 feet of water! Lots! And all of it turquoise!

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Given that we were heading northeast and with a brisk wind on our beam, it was a perfect time to put up both sails and run at an average 7 knots. With this nice turn of speed Windsong II got us into the anchorage earlier than expected.

We anchored with over a dozen boats, some going east like us, and others going west, back to the U.S. Marco and Beatrice came over for sundowners and snacks and we discussed our plans for the next few days. After a nice dinner of BBQ chicken and roasted asparagus, we enjoyed the glorious sunset and then fell into bed and slept soundly. Eight hours in the sun and wind can knock a person right out.

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great sale cay for cover

Sunset at Great Sale Cay

The next day — St. Patrick’s Day — we set out for Crab Cay, a large isolated anchorage with a nice beach. The winds were WNW, and we had a great sale to Crab Cay, often doing over 7 knots. We noticed a huge difference in our speed from having our bottom painted. We just slid through the water.

After four  enjoyable hours, we arrived at 2:00 pm and had plenty of time for play — and work (Bob washed our very grungy dinghy bottom). We all had a refreshing dip and went back to the boat for a delicious dinner of strip loin steak, mashed potatoes and green beans. Another great night’s sleep and we were off to Green Turtle Cay to find a snug anchorage to wait out the coming cold front.

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Back on the boat, Part I…

in the cabin

The propeller that you see on the cabin wall to the upper right is not only an item of decor and conversation, it is our actual back up propeller.

For the last few years, we’ve lived in our sailboat in the winter and spring, starting out in Florida and cruising through the Abacos in the Bahamas. Well, we’re now back on the boat…in our “happy place”…

It’s compact living to be sure, but we love the simple lifestyle and freedom. You can see more pictures of Windsong II, our sailboat, here. It’s a Hunter 356, which is just short of 36 feet long.

As Bob has put it: “Windsong II is so much more than our winter home. She connects us to mother nature. With her we can see, hear and feel the wind, the waves, the tide changing, and wonder at the number of stars so bright from our bed at night.We watch the sunrise and the sunset from her cockpit. On her you can feel very small and full of awe. The wind can move her along so quietly — you can tell she loves it when the engine stops and the sails are full.  She takes care of us in bad weather. She is our mother ship — she allows us to swim in the clearest water, explore and photograph remote beaches, shorelines and settlements in her tender. She is just big enough we can have friends visit to share these experiences with us — what could be better than that? And those are just a few of the reasons we love her…”

Scene from Charles’ last trip to the Bahamas.

The last few years we’ve stayed in marinas as we cruised with one or two salty dogs, our Westies, Angus and Charles — and being on the dock made it much easier to get them off and on the boat many times a day — but sadly, it’s just Bob and me now.  So we have the option of anchoring out or taking mooring balls, which require dinghying to shore.

Right now we are in southeast Florida in a mooring field. We’ve stayed here before and really enjoyed it. It draws a community of friendly cruisers from all over the United States and Canada, even other countries. As part of the modest fee, you have access to showers, tuck shop, lending library, lounge, laundry facilities, wifi, bikes to rent, a shuttle bus and special events. There are also lots of great restaurants in walking distance. And shopping if you have the need.

Leaving the mooring field behind as we dinghy to shore — this particular day it was early morning.

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On board, we have a 70 gallon fresh water tank, which we use for washing dishes and such, and to fill it we need to haul 5 gallon jugs to the boat. Once you’ve hauled a few of these heavy suckers, you find ways to minimize your water use! Last year we installed a solar panel, so this year we have been relying almost 100% on solar for our electricity — fridge, freezer, LED lights, computers etc. On rainy days, we run our diesel generator briefly to provide power. Many other cruisers have wind generators too, but we haven’t gone there at this point. All in all, we have a much lighter ecological footprint than we do on land.

Scenes from the Sunset Bay mooring field…

It’s called Sunset Bay for a reason. One shore faces east and the other west, so we are treated to beautiful sunrises and sunsets almost every day. I don’t have to go far…just a few steps with my camera and there it is. I never tire of this beauty.

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Stay tuned for Part II…

 

 

Crab Cay Anchorage, Bahamas

Cruising has two pleasures. One is to go out in wider waters from a sheltered place. The other is to go into a sheltered place from wider waters.

Howard Bloomfield
windsong and dinghy2

Taken from our friends’ sailboat, Overdraught, of our sailboat  WIndsong II in the distance and our dinghy as the sun goes down on Crab Cay.