After a long 4 days of moving from Hopetown, we have arrived at Warderick Wells, the center of the Exuma Land and Sea Park. The park is still immensely beautiful with the incredibly clear water and all the different blues and greens. The weather is calm and very sunny. We have snorkeled the reef and dipped in and out of the water to cool ourselves off. After the first night we moved to the Northern mooring field where the current flips your boat front to back and the sand bar and the island are right up against your boat. We are going hiking this afternoon and maybe a party tomorrow and then off to some other part of the park. But it is good to see that the magic is still here.
We left Hopetown Thursday morning and moved the boat to Little Harbor in preparation for the crossing to Eleuthera. Took the dinghy over to Pete’s Pub for a drink. A nice sand floor bar with a view of the Harbor. After visiting Pete’s art gallery it was back to the boats and dinner on Heeling Time. The wind was supposed to be out of the North so we anchored in The Bight of Old Robinson but the ocean swell made for a rolly night. We were under way at six this morning for the 60 mile crossing to Current Cut. We had 20 knot winds behind us and 4-6 foot seas so it was a quick trip. I saw 9.8 knots once as we surfed down one of the waves. The fast trip enabled us to get to Current Cut at slack current (almost) so it was a calm trip thru. We are now anchored in a little cove South of Current Cut.
The weather cooperated today and we left Green Turtle in about 10 knots from the west, which made for a very easy pass thru the Whale cut. This area is impassable when the seas are running, but you never would have known it today. There was probably less than 2 foot seas. If the tide hadn’t been falling and we wanted to get into Hopetown we could have just sailed but as it was we motorsailed and got into Hopetown on about 1.5 foot falling tide. We had at least 6″ to spare! We picked up a mooring just off the Hopetown light and will wait out some windy weather here over the next couple of days. The wifi connection here seems to be slow today so no pictures, but hopefully tomorrow.
The Hopetown LightThe Harbour
The sail through the Sea of Abaco from Mangrove Cay to Green Turtle Cay was one of the longest (50 miles) and most fun we’ve had in a long time. Speeds to 8.4 knots but with flat water the boat was just gliding. We had wind to 24 knots and all the sail up as you can see below. We were moving too fast to see the bottom but the water was shades of green and blue. Magical.
After coming into Green Turtle Cay, we explored the island a little but on Thursday, we walked over to the town of New Plymouth. (about 3 miles). We stopped to get sim cards for our phones, an important feature for the trip and then walked down into town. Maybe 150 brightly colored houses on narrow alleyways with small fenced yards. The major transport is golfcart and small boat.
From the town we began the hike back stopping at the Atlantic Ocean beaches to see the height of the surf and wade in the water. On Friday more friends are coming in, so we will stay to meet them and visit.
The alarm went off at 3:40AM Monday, but we were already awake after staying up late watching Peyton Manning et al an then the latest episode of Downton Abbey. The boat was ready and so were we. The anchor was up at 0400 and we were off with our buddy boat Onward….on a slow crossing to the Bahamas. Ten hours later we were on the Little Bahama Bank. The Gulf Stream was rough but not dangerous. Maybe a 5 foot swell from the North with a 3 foot chop from the East…..a washing machine! The banks, however, sported calm seas so we motored on and dropped the hook just North of Mangrove Cay.
We slept in until 0445 and the anchor was up at a more civilized hour. The full moon was still up and Milky Way visible. I even saw a shooting star. The jib and staysail were up before dawn as and then the main before we passed North of Great Sale Cay. The winds built to 16 gusting to 23 knot, but the waters on the banks maintained less than 2 foot chop, so we flew. We averaged 7 knot and peaked out at 8.5 in gusts. A perfect sailing day. Last time we stayed at Green Turtle we touched the solid rock bottom of the entrance, but it has been dredged and now boasts a controlling depth of 7 feet. There is bad weather coming, but we are safely tied up at the Green Turtle Club Marina. We had a lovely dinner at the Club tonight with Joe (Onward) and his friend Peggy.
We are currently sitting at anchor in the Lake Worth Inlet (Palm Beach, Fl) prepared to leave early (4:00am!!) Monday morning. In between getting back to Florida and here, we have experienced 3 days of rain which culminated in a 4 hour downpour of 12-18 inches of rain. This was the same storm that closed parts of 95 and washed out a number of seawalls. This was the same storm that spawned a small tornado that touched down 1/2 mile from the boat. The boat jumped and rocked so much in between the pilings that it tore out 2 cleats from the dock. We were watching all this from the windows of Cecil’s home, warm and dry. That, of course, was after we got drenched bringing in our 3 months of provisions from the car and getting all the meat and frozen stuff safely stored at Cecil’s. What a day to go provisioning. So it is with great relief that yesterday and today were sunny. We left Cecil and Nina this morning after a wonderful stay and navigated the ICW run in good weather, getting stuck behind a south going barge through 3 of the bridges and making the other 3 in good order. With a good amount of luck the seas will be small enough to motor into tomorrow and we will make our way to Old Bahama Bay Marina in West End, Grand Bahama Island, just in time to sit out the next stormy night.
We flew back to Florida on Jan 7 leaving Baltimore on the coldest morning I can remember – 1 degree F!
Florida is only in the 60’s at the moment, but it’s a big improvement. Merlin is looking good and we spent the day today making a shopping run to Costco, updating our Local Boaters Option with Homeland Security for our new passports, and touring Jupiter with our good friends Hap and Elaine. They took us to see the Jupiter Lighthouse and Museum, but since the lighthouse was closed due to the weather we only visited the Museum. Then they took us to Little Moir’s Food Shack, a very popular small restaurant, with a very good menu. They were discovered by the NYT food critic several years ago and described as one of the best place to eat in Palm Beach. The weather is very unsettled at the moment, but it may take a turn for the better on Sunday and allow us to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. This is pretty optimistic thinking having looked at the weather, but maybe it will happen.