I laid awake most of Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, listening to the wind howling. I wasn’t where I thought I’d be, and wasn’t sure where I was going.
I was supposed to be waking up aboard Calypso at Bluff House Inn and Marina in White Sound, Green Turtle Cay. In fact, I’d reserved a slip there on Sunday, knowing the weather would be lousy and not wanting to give up a secure mooring in Black Sound unless I had a safe place to go. We’d chosen to stay at Bluff House because we hadn’t visited there before and were interested to check it out. As we crossed over from Black Sound on Tuesday in the chop and wind, Rick called them on the radio to claim our slip. But they had no record of us, and no room. They also had no remorse, regret, or alternatives. (See you on Trip Advisor, Bluff House…..) Very un-Abaco attitude.
So, we called Green Turtle Club. Dockmaster Wesley set us up, and helped us into our slip. Then, after showers and cleaning up, we turned ourselves over to the kind ministrations of the bartender, the dining room staff, and the chef of the Club and enjoyed what could be our last night in the Abacos. Thanks gang – we’ll miss you!
But on Wednesday morning, the wind wasn’t laying down as forecast (as Rick always says, “It’s a forecast, not a promise.”). Instead of a 7 a.m. departure, we put it off until 9 a.m. The wind didn’t let up any, but we’d psychologically made the cut, so we decided to proceed. And we pounded and pounded into seas that went over our bow and wind that was cranking. An ugly day, and a chilly one. I was decked out in long pants, a t-shirt, a fleece, and a foul weather jacket. And, get this, socks with my Keens. That’s a felony in the Maritime Republic of Eastport (Calypso’s homeport, where Sox after the Equinox is criminal), and a crime against fashion everywhere else.
That isn’t frost on the lifeline; it’s a crust of salt. The entire boat was covered with salt after Wednesday’s passage.
We pulled into Great Sale Cay at sunset; it had been a long day. There were only 2 other boats in the anchorage, and our trusty anchor dug happily into the sand. And we dug happily into bowls of souse (my batch having been enhanced with recipe tips from the ladies at the Green Turtle Club), and johnnycake from the Club. A night like that called for warm soup.
Thursday was a bit easier on us, as we left Great Sale at 7 a.m. and made for Grand Bahama’s Old Bahama Bay marina. It was a brilliant day for a sail, and we zoomed across sparkling water, arriving at the marina well before we thought we would. But we had a dilemma. Rick checked various weather sources, and it was unclear whether we should proceed on the last leg of our journey back to the US. Most forecasts suggested it might be rough to start, but conditions would moderate. Since we had 14 hours of travel from West End to Ft. Pierce, we needed some comfort. Since it appeared that we’d be able to sail (as opposed to motor), we cautiously decided to go for it, checking out of the marina and out of the country with just 5 days to spare on our entry permit.
We reluctantly lowered our Bahamian courtesy flag. Compare the one we flew (the lower) against the spare to see the wear and tear of the environment.
But conditions did not moderate. In fact, they were worse than the forecast and stayed that way. We left Old Bahama Bay well before sunrise.
Sunrise on Friday morning. Are these skies red enough for sailors to have taken warning?
We fought with winds in the 30 knot range (luckily, on our beam – so we flew under shortened jib alone) and following seas in the 6 foot range, with shorter periods than forecast, and periodic cross seas reaching as high as 8-10 feet. Rick took each wave patiently, stoically, methodically; I fought with fear (irrational) and borderline seasickness. We’d go up and down, bow to stern, and on cross-seas, side to side. I listened to all of our stuff rattling and clanging down below, thinking “Please don’t let the Hendrick’s bottle break!”
Rick is always enviably cool and calm at the helm. Even if he’s forced to wear long sleeves in the Bahamian spring.
Rick apologized for dragging me out into these conditions. He didn’t have to. I was miserable, but we weren’t in danger. And besides, it’s a forecast, not a promise. We made an educated decision; even though conditions were worse than forecast, we made it across the Gulf Stream and through the inlet at Ft. Pierce in just 12.5 hours, only motoring for 3.
But, whoa, the culture shock! Tall buildings (over 2 stories!) and cars (not golf carts) everywhere. I saw a beach, with cars parked alongside it, with people all over it, and wondered why anyone would want to go there. As we dropped the anchor alongside the ICW, I was faintly annoyed that I couldn’t see it land on the bottom, or see every grain of sand displaced by its landing. At anchor, we heard traffic noise, trains passing. I could see traffic lights, and ambient light that wasn’t coming from the moon. What is this place?
Luckily, our re-entry into the US will be staged. We won’t be home finally until June. We have much of the ICW to traverse, and other travels, so stay tuned.