Friday, April 22, 2011

April 5-11, 2011 (Week 27, Day 183-189)

Tues. Apr. 5, 2011 (Week 27, Day 183) Destination: Marsh Harbour Weather: partly sunny & cloudy, warm (upper 70’sF) Winds: SSE to S 12-15K, SW squalls 51K, then SSE 8-10K
With the unstable atmosphere, CP came in too scratchy to hear anything; and this was a morning of importance about his high winds & squall predictions vs lesser high winds & thunderstorms predictions by Barometer Bob. I guess what we get is what we get. For days I had been in a mood of anxious anticipation. I tried to distract myself by reading most of the am. Early afternoon we went ashore; Lynn was even better today after a good night sleep & using less oxygen throughout the day. Quickly some internet as the skies were becoming more cloudy & ominous. When we returned home rain was just starting to fall & the Canadian boat that was too close on starboard had left; now we just had the Canadian boat on port that was too close as well. The skies were getting blacker in the north & the winds were blowing from SW to NE. As it got blacker, lightning & thunder, rain & little to no wind commenced. Was this the calm before the storm? It certainly was! Suddenly at 1640 hrs. the SW winds increased, whitecaps & 1-2 ft. chop, heavy rains that misted up the enclosure, colouring of the water & the sky were near the same & land was not visible. The boat heeled from one side to the other as the winds further increased up to 51K for about 15 min. with a few things on the galley counter & under the stove taking a dive. We had lost sight of boats around us; especially of concern was the boat that was too close on port; it was anchored all on rope! And we had 120 ft. of chain! The winds changed directions from SW to SSE back to SW before it calmed to 10K all over a 40-45 min. period. And that boat of concern was now on starboard. We had our engine running the entire time but kept our instruments & VHF off because of the vertical lightning in the vicinity. This was indeed a squall!!! And I prayed there would be no more! It rained for a short while afterwards. Graeme climbed into the dinghy & removed the plug so the 8 inches or so of water could drain. There was some clearing in the west sky but otherwise very dark ugly clouds all about. The temperature had fallen about 15 degrees F & all the boats slowly clocked around 360 degrees. A few dinghies we out retrieving articles that had been blown in the water. We compared our location to others before & after the squall & we seemed to have a slightly different position; we may well have dragged southwards. Supper was simple & quick= nachos. Dishes were washed up before the daylight was completely gone just in case of more squalls. We talked to Larry after listening to Don (weather) on VHF 09 at 1930 hrs.; they lost power at Mangoes for 2 hrs. & registered winds on the dock at 45K; they had listened to chatter on the VHF after the blow & someone announced the highest wind at 51K & that one boat had dragged. Now bedtime, it was very eerie—dark, stars & dead calm!
Wed. Apr. 6, 2011 (Week 27, Day 184) Destination: Marsh Harbour, but… Weather: cloudy with very occasional showing of the sun & warm high of 73F; low tonight= 69-71F Winds: dead calm all night! N winds increased after 0900 hrs. to +/- 10K & shifted to NE through ENE then E to SE by nightfall
The wind generator had it’s rest as well during the entire night last night. Graeme had soldered an extension to the existing SSB antenna yesterday & we had clear audible reception from CP & favourable winds & weather for departure tomorrow right after listening to CP in the am. The open mike portion of the Cruisers Net was filled with people’s reports of lost &/or found articles in the water after yesterday’s squall. Tomorrow’s low tide= 0523 hrs. & high tide= 1118 hrs. We will eye the Whale Passage as we approach the NW tip of Guana Cay & if O.K. we will exit the Bahamas Bank, enter the Atlantic Ocean, make a left turn into the Cut & hopefully gently re-enter the Bahamas Bank, all on a rising tide & thus be assisted rather than opposed through the Cut. Lynn had a good sleepful night last night, oxygen off since yesterday pm; she sees the doctor tomorrow & if given the O.K. they will depart Fri. am. We will then meet up Fri. evening. I cleaned under & behind the stove/oven unit; amazing what you find on thorough cleaning. Actually, no big surprises. I maintained my usual every 2 day washing the cabin floor routine + washed hard-to-reach spots in the head. I decided to do one load of laundry ($3.50); don’t tell Mom, but I threw most of our dirty laundry in all together; shame, shame! I had to wait quite awhile for both a washer & dryer so tried to get on the internet (on & off though), but I did get an email off to my family & week 26 of my blog posted. There were no emails from Patric so I assume all in Green Turtle fared well during the squall & they have pushed on. Back home we lifted the dinghy motor & prepped her for departure tomorrow. We retrieved some Florida books & charts from under the aft cabin bed boards & stowed away the Bahamas ones we no longer needed. A clouded sunset; in fact the rest of the week predictions are warm & cloudy with chance of showers. Supper= pizza. A cloudy night sky as well; some clearing during the night & some stars were visible. This was our last night in Marsh!
Thurs. April 7, 2011 (Week 27, Day 185) Destination: Marsh Harbour to Manjack Cay aka Nunjack Cay Departure: 0720 hrs. Arrival: 1150 hrs. Mileage: 26.7 SM/23.24 NM Winds: N 7-10K leaving anchorage, SSE through Whale Cay Channel, SE 8-10K at Manjack Cay & ESE 8-10K at nightfall
A calm gentle breeze during the night. Surprisingly, I slept well despite being anxious to finally be moving. CP at 0630 hrs., although always late, was very brief, but favourable weather in the northern Bahamas (Abaco area) & winds over the next few days supposedly on the lightish side. We up anchored at 0720 hrs.; muddy sand caked on the anchor which required lots of washing with deck washer. We motor sailed on the jenny at 6-6.3K towards the Whale Cay Passage. We entered the Ship Channel at 0915hrs. & sighted a turtle & a flying fish, the Whale Cay Passage at 0935 hrs. & through the Whale Cay Channel from 1001 to 1003 hrs. at 6K; the winds were light from ESE at 7K. Painless!!! It was a nice beam reach on the Bank side of the Whale where we saw a cormorant in the water with a snake in it’s mouth, past Green Turtle Cay, anchoring at Manjack Cay in 9 ft. & 80 ft. chain. Lunch & a bit of reading + wondering if Lynn received a good ahead from the doctor. We readied the dinghy then off to the sandy beach & walked the trail to the 2 mile long Atlantic Beach (1/2 hrs. walk each way to & from the beach); the signage & trail are maintained by Bill & his wife. I walked the beach for shells & coral, then we dinghied way around to Crab Cay hoping to beach the dinghy, walk through the bush o the Atlantic side & collect sea glass; but we were met by a wild boar! There was no conch & starfish in abundance in clean sandy shallows like 2 years ago, but only muffins on a grassy bottom. We tried to follow a turtle in the shallow waters back at Manjack Cay & sighted Bette & Bill’s boat (Sea Mist) anchored closeby; we found them on the beach & invited back to our boat for a tour. We missed sunset, missed Don at 1930 hrs. & had a very late supper= hamburgers. Some clouds, some stars & we finally saw a dish shaped/positioned sliver moon.
Fri. Apr. 8, 2011 (Week 27, Day 186) Destination: Manjack Cay to Crab Cay, Little Abaco Island around Angelfish Point Departure: 0910 hrs. Arrival: 1235 hrs. Mileage: 17.6 SM/14.9 MN Weather: warm, not hot (>80F), brilliantly sunny, few clouds Winds: S only 5-6K to start the day, NE by midday at 8-10K, & E calm <1K at & after sunset Some slapping of chop on the stern from the south during the night was a little annoying. Light winds had been forecasted for the next several days. We had good reception of CP, nil from the Marsh Harbour Cruisers Net & good reception from Green Turtle Net VHF 18 at 0830 hrs. A magnificent Bahama day! We attempted to sail but the winds were too light. ‘Sea Mist’ & ourselves + relay from Green Turtle Club attempted hailing ‘Twomorrows’ at 0845 & 0945 hrs. unsuccessfully. Bette phoned Mangoes Marina & Larry & Lynn had left--->YES!!! At 1110 hrs. we clearly heard Larry saying that they had just crossed the Whale but he did not hear our replies. Lots of boats moving north & west. As we turned at Angelfish Point into our predetermined anchorage at Crab Cay we were met by 4-5 dolphins. We had a successful reception & transmission with ‘Twomorrows’ via ‘Sea Mist’ at 1300 hrs. The hot afternoon had us lunching, reading & emptying the contents of the dinghy. Bill came over with a spare VHF + tester; the spare VHF was installed when they proved that our radio & not our antenna was the problem. Lynn & Larry arrived at 1530 hrs. after 5 weeks at Mangoes in Marsh Harbour; Lynn sounded tres tired. We hauled the dinghy up on the deck & proceeded to scrap with an ice scrapper & stiff brush all the crusted & vegetation crud off the bottom; it took time, lots of elbow grease & lots of water from the deck washer. Late afternoon the sky was entirely clear, blue, just a perfect setup for a green flash at sunset at 1928 hrs., but it did not flash! How could it not? A red sky spread across the western sky while the eastern sky filled with stars & near quarter moon. There was our 3 boats alone in the anchorage. Supper in the cockpit = cubed steak with onions, potatoes & beans. The red sky faded & the horizon appeared as a suspended pink mist. It was so peaceful, so tranquil, so quiet! The best way to describe the atmosphere was like a hum of nothingness. One of our last Bahamian sunsets & nights!
Sat. Apr. 9, 2011 (Week 27, Day 187) Destination: Crab Cay, Little Abaco Island to Great Sale Cay Departure: 0800 hrs. Arrival: 1520 hrs. Mileage: 43.8 SM/38.96 NM Weather: very, very warm (80+F), very sunny, very blue skies & some cloud that dissipated over the day Winds: light & variable, W 5K start of the day increasing to 7-9K & 1 ft. chop on the Little Bahama Bank then NW <5K by sunset The night could not have been calmer. According to CP light & variable winds were the order of the day; static transmission secondary to squally weather in Florida. It was a motoring day, boat speed 6.2-6.4K X 44 miles, travelling west & guess what direction the wind was coming from? That’s right, west! At 0915 hrs. we passed Center of Earth Rock. Lots of reading throughout the day. After we turned north towards Great Sale Cay, Larry discovered a blue hole--> turquoise water all around with depths of 8.4 ft., a fringe where the Little Bahama Bank visibly drops off & a large patch of indigo coloured water, then back to shallow turquoise water. Soon a group of 5 dolphins were at our bow but soon departed as I had my camera posed, only to discover that the battery was empty. We anchor in 9 ft. & 80 ft. chain. It was so warm today both of us were in the warm water, soaping up & rinsing off afterwards on the transom. A spectacular Bahamian sunset at 1930 hrs. with the tiniest green flash. Fifteen boats in this west anchorage. Supper= curried peanut chicken, much to Graeme’s chagrin. A quarter moon & stars in a clear sky.
Sun. Apr. 10, 2011 (Week 27, Day 188) Last full day in the Bahamas! Destination: Great Sale Cay to Memory Rock Departure: 0900 hrs. Arrival: 1730 hrs. Mileage: 50.4 SM/43.85 NM Weather: hot & sunny, only a few cloudy periods for part of the day Winds: W 6-9K & 1 ft. sea chop; at nightfall ENE heavily favouring E <5K A so very calm night & morning. A hovering mist in the west made it difficult to distinguish the defining line between water & sky. And in the east I watched the sunrise over the scrub vegetation of Great Sale Cay while drinking my morning coffee in the cockpit. Being a Sunday, there was no CP this am. The early morning was already so warm we decided to depart at 0900 hrs., one hour before the others. There was no great hurry as none of us wanted to spend an extended period of time anchored at Memory Rock, which is in fact literally nothing but the edge of the shallows of Little Bahama Bank just as it is about to meet & drop off into the Straits of Florida; there is no land; you are totally & completely surrounded by water. Increasing winds from the north were predicted but this did not happen; again the light winds were from the west, square on our nose as we were travelling west. We made two unsuccessful attempts to set a sail. So both of us read +++, while Auto kept us on course. In the vicinity of Memory Rock we picked a large sandy area to drop the anchor--> 12 ft. water & 100 ft. chain. With such a light west wind the tide was the dominating factor (boat was facing east), a non-existent sea chop & only a small swell. ‘Twomorrows’ anchored 40 min. later & ‘Sea Mist’ was 60 min. later. As the sun lowered in the sky, a band of cloud formed on the horizon which persisted & obscured a sunset below the horizon; next layer above was the faintest hint of mauve, topped by a layer of pink sky--- very picturesque for our last Bahamian sunset & night! Supper = tamale noodle & ground beef (one pot)--> another last, last meal in the Bahamas! It was so hot in the main cabin we ate our last Bahamian meal in the cockpit. Both of us needed a boat shower to cool down. At bedtime we were experiencing a rising tide, the light wind was from ENE heavily favouring the east, the boat was facing west & who knows where the anchor & chain were situated. Our last look of the moon, the clear sky filled with stars from our eyes in the Bahamas!!!
Mon. Apr. 11, 2011 (Week 27, Day 189) Destination: Memory Rock, Little Bahama Bank to Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Florida (Mile 1014.2) Departure: 0730 hrs. Arrival: 1920 hrs. Mileage: 74.8 SM/65.08 NM Weather: warm 73F at sunrise at 0658 hrs., sunny & hot about 85F & only blue above Winds: WSW 10K--> <3K--> SSW 16K
Well, this was it; last Bahamian sunrise & last Bahamian bread for breakfast! Another leg of the adventure completed! Yeah, supplies were diminishing but have held up well. We departed the Little Bahama Bank at 0750 hrs. with all sails out close hauled, but we were unable to hold our sails for long without going way off course. Next to nil boat traffic & the winds diminished & clocked more to the west. It was slow progress; absolutely no wind after noontime--> flat calm, no chop & no swell. Our speed over ground on the GPS was < than the boat’s knotmeter, & much worse through the Gulf Stream, a 1.2-1.5K difference. The sun was very hot. About 10 mi. from the mainland we experienced an increase in wind to 14-16K as well as a change in direction to SSW. The Gulf Stream was reported close to land, about 1 mile. We were able to unfurl the jenny once out of the Gulf Stream & with the increase in wind & direction, we sailed about 3 mi. north of the West Palm Inlet. Thus a tack was necessary taking us SE before we furled the sail & motored into the inlet. Yikes, we can’t see bottom anymore to anchor, only dark water! We must reacquaint ourselves to channel markers, industrial cranes & lights galore + noise--> most unfamiliar! I phoned Mom before the engine was shut down. Amazingly, my TracFone actually worked! Graeme was successful reaching Homeland Security & Border Patrol to announce our arrival in the USA & acquire our number. No sunset falling below the horizon! Supper= leftover curried peanut chicken for me anyway; Graeme’s stomach suddenly unwell. Half moon & stars were visible in the clear night sky but not as bright secondary to all the city lights. This simply was a brutal day; 4 out of 5 days for our crossing back to mainland Florida, especially the last 2, were motor days with no chance to sail!

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