Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christmas in Florida, Boxing Day in the Bahamas!!!

Yes, we are alive and dealing with sparse internet access here in the Bahamas! I guess I should back up a little first.
So we made it to West Palm Beach , Florida a couple of days before Christmas. Our day started by checking the weather forecast, hoping for a window to get the 56 miles across the Gulfstream and over to the Bahamas. Nothin' doin', everything was sketchy and out of the north. All my research told me not to try a crossing with a north component to the wind. When the north flowing Gulfstream hits a wind out of the north, it builds steep, square waves making for a very uncomfortable (and sometimes dangerous) crossing. More on how this worked out for us a little later. So we hung out in Palm Beach, playing paparazzi and stalking Tiger Woods yacht.

Ironically his boat is called "Privacy", but even with covers draped over the transom, everyone knew it was his boat.

So with no prospect of a crossing likely, we accepted the fact that Christmas would be spent in the anchorage in Palm Beach. Not that we are expecting any sympathy from anyone, it was still better than being in Port Colborne, but it wasn't where we wanted to be.

Anyway, we had a really nice Christmas morning, finally pulling the gifts out for the kids (not easy to hide this stuff on a 35' boat!!). And much to the kids relief, Santa manged to find us even though we were anchored out.

After all the gifts were opened, we once again listened to the forecast, as well as checking out passageweather.com , and it appeared we might have a small weather window to cross on Boxing Day. We pulled the anchor and moved a few miles north to Peanut Island, the staging anchorage for boats preparing to make the crossing.

The weather window was small, but the forecast called for 7-11kts out of the northwest (good sailing direction) with seas 2' or less. We got the boat ready with a planned departure of 0500hrs on Boxing Day.

Well, let me tell you this, DON'T TRUST NOAA WEATHER FORECASTS!!!!!! We left in the company of our friends Terry, Kim and Brynne on "Clarity", as well as another boat , "Windswept IV". Both of the other boats had made numerous crossings, this was our first.

We left the anchorage in the dark, and according to NOAA the edge of the Gulfstream should have been about 6 miles offshore. If you don't know, the Gulfstream is basically a river that flows north along eastern seaboard, sometimes at speeds up to 4 kts. If you have wind out of the north going against it, you wind up with short, steep, ugly seas. Plus, since the Bahamas (or at least West End, Grand Bahama) is due East, you have to point your boat south to make up for the northerly flow.

Anyway, we got out on the ocean and soon realized the forecast was out to lunch. I make a living working on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. A regular part of my job is checking the weather and estimating sea heights to determine if we can dive the subs or not. We found ourselves in 20-25kts, gusting to 30kts out of the NW. The seas were 8-10' at their worst (our video clip doesn't really give an accurate picture of what we had going on), but thankfully following us. Lisa and I were apprehensive to say the least, figuring if it got really bad we would just turn south and head to Miami. After awhile we realized that both the boat and crew were handling things just fine.We gave Delaney and Mitchel half a Gravol each, but otherwise they just stayed inside reading and playing DS.

video
video
10 hours later we arrived in West End, Grand Bahama Island!!!


Grandma Annie treated us to 2 nights at the marina, so we managed to get a few more projects done on the boat, as well as get our first taste of the Bahamas.




After 2 days in West End, we had another 40 miles to get to an anchorage on Great Sale Cay. We had a great day on the water, still getting used to travelling in 6'-8' of water that is cleaner than what we have in our pool!

We met up with a young family from Boston travelling with their 2 little girls, age 2 and 3. They left a few hours before us since they had to take an outside, deepwater route, while we took a shallow water inside route. The anchorage was very windy, but well protected, so we had a good nights sleep in anticipation of our next days travel of 65 miles to Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos.


4 days ago we arrived in Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos. Our days have been filled with checking out the local beaches, the town (New Plymouth) and just hangin' out enjoying the sun and warm weather.

So I have now been sitting on the deck at our local hang-out, Pineapples, and my butt has fallen asleep. I also seem to be missing some pics, so I'll end now and make another post later today. )(Junkanoo was yesterday (New Years Day) and we have some great pics and video).

Or maybe tomorrow........ I dunno, we are working on "Island Time" now!!!

It is definitely "Better in the Bahamas!!!!!!!!!!!!!".

Later,

Mark.