Lake Worth to Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas
Oh! dear, we're behind with the blog again and we're already two weeks into our latest Bahamian sojourn - nice word, just a pity I have to go to spell check to get it right!
Our departure from Lake Worth became potentially complicated when the 'authorities' shut down the whole ICW in an area just where we would have been transiting in the early hours of the following morning. The alternative route was a narrow channel that we were unfamiliar with. Much confusion reigned but you don't argue with the 'uniforms' on the basis that it's the first opportunity you've had to cross the Gulf Stream in weeks without it seeming like a Cape Horn adventure. Someone speculated that the President was flying in as there were helicopters above and they needed to throw an exclusion zone around his landing site.
No, Obama wasn't about to show himself in Palm Beach at all. A local man (later delightfully described by a frustrated British cruiser over the VHF as a "complete moron") had walked into the Tiki Bar at the Riviera Beach Marina, placed his vehicle keys on the counter in front of some unfortunate, and no doubt partially inebriated, barside dweller mentioning that the vehicle belonging to the keys had a bomb in it. Any attempt to unlock the car/truck or whatever the keys belonged to would result in the device, i.e The Bomb, being activated, i.e Blown Up. We were never made aware if the demarcation zone set by the authorities was thrown round the vehicle in the car park or the keys in the Tiki Bar. The authorities, now joined by the Feds, took the incident seriously and the whole place came to a complete standstill.
This was most unfortunate for the evening charter catamaran that left from that very same marina for a sunset cruise. All of the sunset patrons cars were in the same car park as 'The Bomb', maybe next to it! Understandably the catamaran wasn't allowed anywhere near the marina to drop off it's guests. They had to be landed on the seaward side of Lake Worth some ten miles by land from Riviera Beach Marina. That must have been irritating to say the least, but the local taxis must have benefited, so every cloud etc....
At 2104 hours that evening after we had snuggled down in bed a distant muffled explosion was indication that a controlled detonation had successfully taken place. The area was then deemed safe for us to go about our business. The 'moron' was duly arrested, the blue flashing lights turned off, the FBI left in their choppers and at 0400 the next morning we were threading our way out of Lake Worth for the five mile trip along the ICW and out into the Atlantic. We were not alone as there seemed to be yachts pouring out of every marina and anchorage along the way. We had the makings of a small convoy.
The Gulf Stream looked like it would be kind to us, being virtually a mill pond, but Neptune doesn't let you have it all your own way when you are in his domain. We motored onwards using both engines until the charging light started to occasionally flicker on starboard engine when we were about half way across. Now this is a strange and almost unbelievable fact but a fact all the same. Three boats, all within a mile or so of each other all developed alternator problems. One had to abort and head back to Lake Worth, whilst two of us continued on to our destination. Naughty Neptune. And he wasn't finished yet, as unfortunately we also lost a good sized fish which hit one of our trailing lures on the Bahamas side of the Gulf Stream. Not panicking into reeling the thing in too quickly we wound the other two lines in to prevent a tangle, then gloves on, gaff ready, fish bucket ready, all systems go, and so did the fish - it went. Spat the hook in defiance and lived to fight another day. Didn't even get its name. Now Neptune was splitting his sides! To rub salt into our lures, he then gifted us a two foot long finger crunching Barracuda which we eventually threw back.
We entered the Little Bahama Bank around 1700 the same day and headed for deserted Great Sale Cay, a favourite stopping off point for boats taking this route. It certainly wouldn't be deserted that night as so many had made the crossing. The forecast was for lots of wind the next day so we decided to press onwards for another fifty miles or so past Great Sale. The anchorage already had a fair sprinkling of anchor lights from those settled in for the night. We didn't actually relish anchoring in the dark with so many others although the charts indicted that there was plenty of room.
Motoring across the Bahama banks on a moonless night is akin to driving along an airport runway wearing a blindfold, no immediate danger of hitting anything but quite disconcerting all the same, especially when the depth below the keels at times reads only single figures. With no GPS we just would not attempt this nightime sortie but having three at our disposal is a little more comforting. We broke into our usual watch system and left the anchored fleet behind us snug in their beds as more boats joined them.
Having left the convenience of a safe night time anchorage in our wake the alternator charging light decided to remind us that it wasn't very happy. This is one of the many Sod's Laws that mariners have to contend with. Things don't mend themselves on a boat if you simply ignore the symptoms. Even sporadic symptoms like ours. But the engine seemed happy enough so we pressed on - we have two of them after all.
At 0200 hours the 'Admiral' relinquished the watch and scuttled below, mentioning in her report that there was a very strong strobe light dead ahead. There certainly was a migraine inducing strobe light dead ahead and 'Skip' was still staring at it four hours later at the watch change! It comes from a communications tower at Duncan Town and how the residents get any sleep at night is beyond comprehension.
We arrived off Green Turtle Cay shortly after daybreak on New Year's Eve, strobe light behind us but charging light still occasionally blinking. We motored into Black Sound on Green Turtle Cay to clear Immigration, take a long nap, and start our first Bahamian visit for three years.
Sorry, no pictures of the Gulf Stream crossing, the alternator flashing light, or either of the fish. But lots in the next one.