Thursday, January 20, 2011

Leaving the Bahamas (playing catch up with the posts)

"Today is very sunny. I'm sitting here doing school. My classroom looks like a boat, one reason why is because it is a boat! When I look outside my window I see two little houses, one yellow and one turquoise, a powerboat on a mooring ball and a sailboat called "Morning Glory" on a mooring ball. I live on a boat called "Charlotte-Ann". It is a 34' Gemini catamaran. I love life on a boat!!"

Delaney/March 2010
As much as we didn't want to leave, the time had come for us to make our way from the Bahamas and back to Florida. Hurricane season was fast approaching, and although many people remain cruising in the Abacos well into summer, the logistics for us just didn't make it possible.

There were plenty of sad good-byes in Hope Town. Our little community of Ex-pats (The Butlers, The Gormans and The Richens) all had plans to move on. Our new-found Bahamian friends (The Higgs, The Aberles) would always be here, just one more reason for us to return to the Abacos in the near future.

We made our way to Guana Cay to once again anchor off of Grabbers. The weather was great and we hung out by the pool with the crew from "Liquid Asset", enjoying the last of our days with Bill, Karen and Jack. Neil and Rachel stopped by and we got a guided tour of the Island with Neil.

More swimming and hanging around at Scotland Cay, then it truly was time to head off.

As "Liquid Asset" and "Different Drummer" made their way back to Hope Town, we were pointed in the opposite direction, heading for Green Turtle Cay.

Originally planning to head through "Don't Rock Pass", a direct shallow water route to GTC, we decided as we approached the pass that we didn't feel comfortable with the swell that was running. We had been assured there was plenty of water for our Gemini, but it was nearing low tide and with a large swell running in I didn't want to risk any unintended "bumps" on the seabed. We diverted to Treasure Cay, and while Lisa relaxed back on the boat, the kids and I went ashore to take advantage of the pool.

The next day we were off early, getting to the pass about an hour before high tide. We went through without incident, never seeing less than 5' below our hulls even though the swell was still running pretty good.

After a few days in Green Turtle Cay we were off again, travelling a day to our staging spot for the crossing back to Florida. We met-up with another Canadian boat, Tamaki, a Catalina 36'. Since they were also heading back to West Palm Beach, we decided to buddy-boat. The trip to Mangrove Cay was really nice, blue skies, warm temps and just barely enough wind to sail. We even managed to get our spinnaker up for a few hours (it's a little small for our boat, but was free, thanks Jason!).

Later that afternoon, once our anchor was set, we were approached by 2 Bahamian conch fishermen in a small open powerboat. They asked if we could spare some gas, they were running low and were a good 15 miles from land. Sure, it could have been a scam, but for the small amount of gas we gave them it was worth the peace of mind knowing that we "may" have helped out some people in need. Regardless, they left us with 6 huge, cleaned conch in exchange for 4 gallons of gas. Seemed appropriate, conch salad as our final meal in the Bahamas.

We left Mangrove Cay just after midnight. It was bumpy and windy with ugly skies lit up by the occassional flash of lightning. Once again, not what was in the forecast!

We left the shallow waters of the Bahama Bank just before sunrise, and 10 hours later arrived in West Palm Beach.

Our "first" cruise to the Bahamas was officially over (well, the Bahamas part anyway). It was 11 months since we pulled away from the dock at Loyalist Cove in Bath, Ontario.

The kids have seen more in these 11 months than many kids will ever see (Erie Canal, Hudson River, NYC, the open Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, The Dismal Swamp, The Gulf Stream and the The Abacos).

Although not always on the move (but still on the boat), they also made new friends and enjoyed new experiences while tied-up in Virginia and Georgia, including side trips to Annapolis, Maryland and Washington, DC.

11 months of real-life experiences that could really only be wrapped-up with a visit to the one place where the "unplanned, unexpected and unpleasant" are strictly forbidden.

Yup, you guessed it, DISNEY!?!