Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Great Sale Cay & Spanish Cay, Bahamas

Monday, November 30 - Thursday, December 3, 2009

We've made it! We're finally in the Bahamas...a year later than we originally planned, but we're here! We left Lake Worth at 9pm on Sunday (11/29), headed for Memory Rock north of West End. We initially planned to go to the Old Bahama Bay marina on West End to clear customs & immigration, but a pending cold front threatened to keep us there for a few days (more marina days = more $$$). Someone at the Riviera Beach marina told us it was a lot easier to go straight through to Great Sale Cay via Memory Rock. It saves you from clearing customs in West End, and more importantly, from having to deal with the shallow channel past Indian Rock and Barracuda Shoal. Instead of leaving Lake Worth at 4am on Monday, however, that pushed up our departure by a few hours. We ran around Palm Beach like crazy finishing up last-minute errands, and managed to raise the anchor on time. We had an easy trip out of the inlet, up until we neared the outer marker and saw a HUGE barge coming our way. We'd heard him talking to a tug on the VHF radio, and called him to figure out how to best stay out of his way. Once we passed him, we were on our way to the Bahamas!

Seas were only 1-2' most of the way, which made it easy on us and the kitties. The northerly current of the gulf stream was much stronger than we anticipated. At its worst, it required a 50 degree spread between our true heading and our course over ground. On top of that, the wind was on the nose the entire time, so we never managed to raise the sails. (It looked like our wind gauge was broken!) Ultimately it took us 13 hours to make the 53nm trip from Lake Worth to Memory Rock instead of the planned 10-12 hours. We continued on to Great Sale Cay in plenty of water and calm seas. Our only no-no was breaking the Bahamian "cardinal rule" of not traveling in the Bahamas at night (too many shallows and coral heads); fortunately we had deep water all the way to our anchorage, as well as a nearly-full moon that lit our path. We arrived at our anchorage an hour and a half after sunset, and were one of only 4 boats in the anchorage. Apparently we weren't the only crazy ones traveling at night; 2-3 more boats arrived at the anchorage two hours after us.

We were up at dawn to make the 44nm crossing to Allans Pensacola Cay. En route, we spoke to another boat via VHF who mentioned a spot that had better protection for the forecasted 20-plus knot south-easterly winds. We ended up in Crab Cay off the eastern tip of Little Abaco Island with only one other boat (our radio buddies ended up going to Allans Pensacola), and enjoyed a spectacular sunset and the company of a 3' barracuda which circled our boat on arrival. Speaking of wildlife...we've only been here for two days, but we're already in awe of the sea life. During yesterday's crossing, we came across a 4-5' tiger shark swimming at the surface, as well as a dolphin that wanted to check us out. The water is so shallow and clear that we can see all kinds of creatures wherever we are.

Wednesday we made the 5nm trip from Crab Cay to Spanish Cay to clear customs and find some shelter from the forecasted 30kt winds. Spanish Cay is a private resort island, and we've apparently come in the off (i.e. dead) season. There's no one here, other than the caretakers of a 112' mega-yacht and the marina manager with his visiting family members. By the way - did we mention that they're Dutch?? It seems like anywhere we go, Rene manages to meet up with his fellow countrymen. Queue the Disney characters and "It's a Small World" now...

After checking in with customs and immigration, we were finally "legal" in the Bahamas. Woo hoo! We wandered to the north end of the island and found a beach with tons of conch shells and a few stranded starfish that Rene put back in the water. We tried to go to Wrecker's bar on Barefoot Beach, but it turns out that it's only open Thursday through Sunday during high season - neither of which applies today. No worries...we went back to the boat for lunch, and spent the rest of the afternoon at the marina pool.

Today (Thursday), we hope to go up to Manjack Cay for an overnight stop if the winds will ever let us leave Spanish Cay marina. We have 15kt winds on the beam pushing us into the dock, so we're not going anywhere anytime soon. Hopefully they'll ease up this afternoon so we can get out of here. We'd like to get into Green Turtle Cay Friday morning at high tide, since the channel entrance is only 4.5-5' at MLW. Green Turtle is supposed to be a pretty happening place, so hopefully we'll have more stories to tell later!

A word of warning to our friends and family - not surprisingly, it isn't nearly as easy to find internet access here as it is in the states. We're traveling around some deserted islands, often far from a cell tower. We're hoping to figure out a more reasonably-priced alternative to our Verizon broadband stick once we get to Green Turtle Cay or Marsh Harbor. We'll update the blog as often as we can, but please don't be surprised if it's a week or more between updates!

Pictures for this Blog chapter:

No comments: