We departed Highborne Cay on the 22 April after a couple of nights among pseudo yachts (my term for wanna be super yachts). The weather forecast is for a late cold front to move into the area, with winds clocking around to the west for the next few days.
Chris Parker is then calling for a 3-4 day window after the front to move westward with light winds building slightly from the east.
Our trip back across the Yellow banks was okay. The winds were still blowing about 15-20 and were getting pretty blustery by the time we actually made it to Nassau, about 5:00 that day.
It was a bit of culture shock being back in Nassau after 4 months in the quiet out islands.
The supermarket across the street form Nassau Harbour Club, did indeed feel like a SUPER market. Wow the colors of the fruits and vegies, the range was great. Remembering to our last time here in Jan, we thought it was pretty dire.
We cleaned Southern Star over the week end. We had to wait until Monday for Jenny’s VISA appointment with US Embassy. Spent all day going to and from the Embassy twice (had to return to pick up the passport with the VISA inserted). We cabbed over, and walked back (took an hour and a half) and we were zonked. We took the bus back, to collect it and return. Pretty interesting public transport in Nassau. But all went well and at the end of the day Jenny was legal, with a B1 VISA.
We had to wait until Wed for the weather window, so all day Tuesday was lounging. We sat by the pool, went to the booze store for some Bahamian rum.
And early morning Wed, we left the dock at Nassau. A parade of others, a sailing yacht, and a super yacht (not pseudo) and we waited for a cruise ship to maneuver into its berth.
66 miles and 10 hours later, we stopped on the banks for the night. It is too far to make in one crossing across the banks in one day, and you should only cross them with daylight. Otherwise you need to go the east side of the Berry’s and stay in deep water, and make it an overnight passage. So we decided, let’s stop and sleep on the banks.
We did see some interesting sea life when we came onto the banks from the Tongue of the Ocean. A small pod of large dolphin or small whales, pilot whales (I believe) were lazing along the surface. Their very black dorsal fins glistened in the sun. They were accompanied by some very small (perhaps spotted Atlantic dolphin) dolphins.
We left the channel and headed east to drop our anchor behind some shoals which should calm the chop. 6-7 miles on this heading, we are in 3 metres of water, and no land to be seen in any direction, we drop the hook. No boats, on traffic, nothing to be seen in any direction. We deployed the flopper stopper, as there was a short, small chop.
That night, the winds picked up and the chop increased. Southern Star was lying pretty nicely with the flopper stopper out, but the chop would slap the hull with a large one every 5-10 minutes. So the nights rest was not completely restful.
We picked up the flopper stopper and the anchor at daybreak and got on course for our long 65 mile journey to North Cat Cay, where we are nicely positioned to make the Gun Cay cut and get into the Gulf Stream for our last long crossing to Ft. Lauderdale.
On our way across the banks toward Cat Cay, we were hailed on the VHF radio by Relish. We did not know who this was, but as it turns out, she is a Nordhavn 60, bound for Nassau to new owners, with our friend James Knight of Yacht Tech, on board. We exchanged pleasantries and continued on toward Cat.
Hours later, we received another VHF call from M/V Moonrise. Martin and Bridgett are Facebook friends, and they own a Nordhavn47 and were coming straight at us. They had just departed Ft Lauderdale, and were making their way to Nassau.
And so it was a very social day out on the banks.
The final approach to Cat Cay put us right across some very skinny water, and at low -.8’ tide.
Our Navionics charts have proven to be pretty useless along the banks. The Explorer charts which we use on C-maps, and Coast Explorer are the only real guide to the depths on the banks. But this last section, both were off and significantly off. Explorer charts had us going across 1.8 metres of water and we were skimming along at 1.5, even saw and felt 1.3 for a very short time. We kept the speed up and left a trail of sand behind us, but finally made it into 3 metres of water to drop the hook behind Cat Cay.
Winds built overnight, and we had some more slop against the hull. We both were up and ready to go as we waited for the sun to rise. The Gun Cay cut was a bit tricky, and we were ‘gun shy’ after yesterday’s approach, as the charts said we had 2 metres to cross.
There was a bit of swell across the south side of the cut, and winds against the tide made it feel bigger.
Finally through, and no bottom touching, we headed for Ft. Lauderdale and the real world. The winds were ESE at 10-15knots. We corrected about 15 degrees south to adjust for the Gulf Stream current, and we were making 8-9-touching 10 knots for a time.
Our last leg 60 miles but we were about 2-3 hours ahead of our projected arrival. Southern Star was flying.
We could see the skyline of Miami and Ft Lauderdale for miles from sea. We targeted the huge container cranes of Port Everglades and headed into civilization.
It was serious culture shock, working our way past the cruise ships, and the super yachts, and the go fast boats, zipping around in the intracoastal.
The entrance into Port Everglades was pretty rough with the strong onshore breeze and the tidal current making the channel very choppy.
We worked into the channel and passed under the 17 street causeway bridge, with a 2 foot standing wave under the bridge, and over to the Hall of Fame Marina to tie up in the real world.