Leaving GHC was a bit like saying good bye to old friends. There were a few other boats that were planning to depart today but we were the first ones to go. Lee and Cheryl , off Shalaylee helped us with our lines, and we waved good bye to the marina, as we maneuvered out of the slip, past the narrow blasted channel out onto the banks.
It was a beautiful bright and sunny morning. The winds were still coming out of the east, stronger than we hoped, but I wanted to get away. 9 days in Great Harbour Cay Marina was causing me to get a bit stir crazy. It was a fun place- with potlucks, and pizza delivery, watching the Pats with Lee and Cheryl on their boat, but it was time to go.
The route across the banks was nice and easy, we back tracked our route in, the water clear and easy to read. The bank side of the island, west, was protected from the wind, and the trip to deep water was perfect.
Once abeam Great Stirrup Cay, we turned to run alongside the Berrys and right into the wind and the chop, which built as the day progressed. We had only 24 miles on this entire journey, so we knew that the trip should not take too long. We saw 4-6 foot seas and the wind was 15-20 knots. It was too rough to fish, and we retired to the wheel house as soon as we turned into the chop.
Sure was nice to be inside and protected for these conditions. We watched Mahi, a 42’ sloop behind us, pounding into the head sea. No sail up as it was dead on the nose. We heard him on the radio talking to another yacht, the conditions did not seem to put him off.
We had to run the wipers on occasion to keep our vision through the windscreen clear. The stabilizers did their job. Moving around was difficult, as Southern Star bucked, and sent salt spray everywhere.
Finally, we made the Soldier Cay waypoint and turned onto the course- moving up to the fly-bridge for fantastic vantage for the visual piloting needed to get into the anchorage.
Soldier Cay was nice, the water clear, and felt relatively calm. No boats around us, Mahi was planning to go to Soldiers but must have gone back to Great Stirrup.
We had trouble getting the anchor to stick in the grass. After dropping it, I realized the chain counter was reading in feet rather than meters. We anchored in 3.5 meters of water and on our second attempt with adequate scope we were firmly planted. I donned my mask and fins and snorkeled the hook. I dove down and help to steer the point into the grass/sand while Jenny backed gently on the engine.
Hook dug well into the sand. I surveyed the area on the way back to the boat. All dead conch shells, no dinner possibilities here.
We settled in, rinsed off in the cockpit with the hot and cold shower, had a sundowner cocktail, and watched the sunset. Peace at last.
After dinner, BBQ on the aft deck, we were pretty shattered, after the rough ride we settled into our bunk.
Soldier Cay is a pretty little island, with a nice sandy beach in the center. It falls away on both ends to just short reef. The tide came in over the night, the protection of the reef disappeared, and the swell from the ocean found its way into our little anchorage, and we began to rock and roll, and not in an Elvis manner.
We rolled in our bunk. I could not lay on my side without bracing myself. I could lay on my back and get some rest. But we felt as though we were awake all night. Southern Star lay to the wind, causing her to beam to the swell as it came across the reef.
Not a very pleasant night for us. Our first night on the hook, and we spend most of it looking out the windows, checking that we were not dragging, and rolling around all night. We were happy to see the daybreak. And we quickly made ready to get out of there and slog our way onto Nassau. We had 42 miles ahead of us, but the weather forecast was for calming conditions.
We back tracked our approach into Soldier Cay, and once in deep water, turned south and into the wind and chop. As promised the wind was less, and the seas subsided somewhat. But the trip promised to be bumpy again.
We saw Shalaylee off our stern on the AIS, and the radar. We contacted Lee on the VHF to learn he was heading to Nassau as well. He soon passed us as he was travelling at 10 knots, and we were getting about 5.5 knots toward our destination.
The forecast held true. And as we neared Nassau the winds died down and the seas calmed some more.
The AIS became very cluttered with names, as we got closer. Nassau is a major cruise ship port, and is very busy. I called in on the VHF radio to Nassau Harbour Control to request permission to transit the harbour on our way to our dock at Nassau Harbour Club, happy to be in protected waters again. They struggled with our NZ registration number, but advised us to proceed with caution past the five huge cruise ships berthed there.
We contacted Nassau Harbour Yacht Club and secured a slip for 2 nights. Bow in at the dock gave us max privacy in the cockpit, but the fixed dock meant that when the tide fell we had a big step up to the dock off Southern Star.
We tied up, put the shore power into the boat, and started a wash down. Everything we touched was caked in salt. Southern Star was one salty girl, and she needed a good cleaning. Tired as we were, we jumped into it and got her cleaned. Dinner of burritos and we were soon passed out in the bunk. Happy to be in Nassau and the boat still again.