Wow. Started this blog almost a month ago, and we are now departing Ft. Pierce Florida. Better get this one out before we move any further.
We are sitting at Great Sale Cay, in the northern Abaco Islands, waiting to depart for the last leg of the trip to Ft Pierce, Fl. The trip is about 120 miles, and we plan to leave today June 1 at about 3:00 pm to make our landing at Ft Pierce about 8-9:00 am tomorrow.
We are the only boat anchored here this morning. We had 4-5 others anchored nearby last night, but they have all moved on.
We sat on the swim platform late yesterday, after taking one final swim in the Bahamas, and talked about our Bahamian adventure this year.
Without a doubt, we feel much more confident with Southern Star, having been aboard about 1 ½ years now. We are confident in our ability to handle her, in her ability to handle adverse conditions. She is a really comfortable craft, and she makes us feel safe when tucked inside of her.
We have really enjoyed the social aspects of this year’s cruise. We got to spend time with Clark and Michelle Haley on Nordhavn 47, Roam. We caught up with them at the beginning of the trip in Great Harbour Cay, and we met up again on the way to the Exuma Land and Sea Park.
It has been more social this season, as we got to know Gale and Mary on ‘Work Not’, N57 and Steve and Pat on N57 ‘White Raven’. We enjoyed get togethers and happy hours in the park with the Nordhavn flotilla.
We even enjoyed being in Georgetown this year. Perhaps as we were later and missed the chaos of the Cruisers Regatta, this year was better, less crowded. One of Jenny’s best friends from the UK, Elizabeth and her daughter Elise came to Georgetown to visit us. The weather was unusually idyllic for their visit.
We really enjoyed meeting Michael and Katie, on Nordhavn 68, ‘Kya’. They are expat Australian, and we both seemed to enjoy to southern hemisphere connection, its sarcastic sense of humor.
This season we ventured to the more isolated outback islands. We caught up with Roam in the Ragged Islands, and met a few more boaters who enjoy the remoteness. The Raggeds were definitely a high point, with fewer boats around, and much more game for us to put on the table. Clark and I had a great lobster hunt, where we caught 13 lobsters.
Unfortunately we seem to have more than our share of bad weather this season. Although looking back at last year, we also spent a lot of time holed up from bad weather. This season, we had endless weeks of strong trade winds, with little reprieve from 20-25 knots from the east. This year, we did feel that we were stuck in places, hunkered down waiting for less than 20 knots to find a new hidey hole.
Our trip back from the Raggeds, to Georgetown, to pick up Elizabeth and Elise was a rough 3 days. With stops at night behind minimally protected cays, we were very happy to make it back to Georgetown and it’s all round protection. Amazingly the weather was calm, and warm for most of their stay.
We ventured over to Cat Island after our guests left, we enjoyed the Bight, staying in New Bight, further north for several days, as the winds shifted NNE and we had more protection. We caught two massive fish while coming into Cat, one tuna and one large Dorado, which yielded us 22 fish dinners for the freezer.
We stopped at Half Moon Cay, or Little San Salvador Island, and anchored off of the cruise ship’s beach village, to meet Jenny’s brother Jonny and his wife Nicola.
The trip to Eleuthera from Half Moon Cay was pretty rough. We have had strong SE winds for at least a week, and we had big 8-10ft seas on our aft beam as we headed northwest. It was nice to get behind the end of Cape Eleuthera to get shelter from the seas. The passage was not great, but we and the boat were fine.
We threaded our way past the Cape and onto the banks, with plenty of shallow sand bars on both sides of the channel. But we had good depth, and the chart plotter and soundings were in agreement.
We took another hour or so to reach Rock Sound anchorage, and with the southerly winds we anchored in the southern end of the Sound, furthest away from the township. We dropped the hook in a couple of meters of water, and had a nice quiet night, with only one sailing vessel as a neighbor.
Next morning the winds had shifted to the west, and we were concerned if they picked up over the day so moved over to the northern end of Rock Sound with good protection from the north.
Jenny made contact with her brother and learned that he and Nicola had to get off the cruise ship in Ft Lauderdale and John was in the hospital, and Nicola was not fairing very well on her own.
And so we decided to go to the marina at Cape Eleuthera so that Jenny could fly back to Ft Lauderdale to help Nicola out.
Cape Eleuthera Marina was a very nice marina. Opened to the west we were told later it was surgie when a strong cold front blew in from the west. But for our visit it was well protected, and modern with nice docks, good power, a nice restaurant, and a pool. It was pretty far away from the nearest town, Rock Sound, and the airport Rock Sound Airport was about 35 minutes away.
It turns out it was $60 cab ride to the airport, or a car rental for the day was $60.
So for two days I was a bachelor while Jenny attended to family business. The logistics to get her back and forth to Ft Lauderdale was pretty easy, and even cost less than from Nassau or Georgetown.
I took a full day to clean the boat while Jenny was away. It was a nice distraction, and I felt like I really accomplished something.
Jenny returned from Ft. Lauderdale, her story in another blog, and we headed along Eleuthera stopping along the way at Rock Sound for a night and then over to Alabaster Bay, anchoring off a beautiful white sand beach, with a closed down resort/restaurant.
We were tucked in due to the strong SE winds for a couple of days, doing some underwater hull cleaning and anode changes.
We kayaked ashore a few times, enjoying the solitude.
Finally we left Alabaster and went on to Spanish Wells at the northern end of Eleuthera. The approach was a bit tricky, shallow and narrow, and arriving at low tide, I navigated the narrow channel around fully exposed sand bars to the marina.
We really enjoyed Spanish Wells, with a real working fishing village atmosphere. All of the cottages were local fisherman, and well maintained and brightly painted. We walked our feet off as we often do, walking one afternoon to a beach bar/restaurant about 3 miles each way. The weather not nice, as we watched the small beach crash with big waves as a small runabout tourist boat boarded guests in the semi surf conditions.
Finally the weather promised to die down for a few days, and after 4 days we left Spanish Wells bound for the Abacos.
Well the trip was nice for the first 20 miles or so, as we were in the lee of Eleuthera, but when we rounded the protected of the Island we were in the Atlantic Ocean with waves coming from Africa. While the winds had finally receded the swells were still pretty large, and we suffered through 8-10’ beam seas for about 40 miles.
We were uncomfortable, but Southern Star never made us feel unsafe. Our approach into the southern end of the Abacos was very exciting. With the large swells breaking on the reef on both sides of Little Harbour Cut.
I steered the boat with the follow up control for the fastest rudder response, and with one hand on the throttle to slow and speed up the boat to keep control with the swells.
We were happy to drop the hook off of Lynard Cay after a long trip.
We dropped our anchor at the same time as a Nordhavn 55, did a few hundred meters south of us. ‘Another Moon Dance’ was her name.
We stayed a few days to decompress and toured Little Harbour with AMD who took us over in their dinghy, as we are still without crane.
Finally we moved along the Abacos, and stayed a week in Marsh Harbour at the marina. One of the larger towns in the Bahamas, it felt a bit like being in Nassau.
We moved on and finally staged at Great Sale Cay for our long trip to Ft Pierce. 118 miles, we departed GSC late afternoon to cross the banks and to hit the deep water and the Gulf Stream for a nice overnight passage.
Light, calm winds were a very welcomed change, and we made Ft Pierce as planned at slack tide about 9:00 in the morning.
Back to the real world