Lake Worth, Florida to Great Harbour Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas
In position 25:45.32N, 077:52.68W Great Harbour Cay, Berry Islands
It’s nice to visit somewhere new. Although we’ve been coming to the Bahamas for four of the last six years the Berrys have somehow eluded us. We’ve passed both north and south of this chain of small cays situated between Grand Bahama Island and Andros (somewhere else we’ve yet to visit) but we were always into a voyage going somewhere else. So this year is our ‘Berry’s’ Year.
We could have still been vegetating in Lake Worth rueing a lost opportunity to cross. It was the previous day that the forecast was best for sailing across the Gulf Stream but the strong southeast wind blowing through the Florida Straits ahead of an approaching sluggish cold front wouldn’t subdue as predicted. To be honest the afternoon became evening and we just didn’t fancy slipping out of Lake Worth at night when we were snugged up safely at anchor listening to the wind howl through the rigging. So on went the telly for another couple of episodes of Modern Family (The Hiscocks would turn in their graves). But we did lift the anchor in the late afternoon to visit a local fuel dock to top off our tanks. If we were going to head across the next morning it would be the engines pushing us not the wind. But it would be an early start after listening to yet another forecast.
The Cold Front we were hoping to avoid taken at 0915 am (left) and 1740 pm (right) the day before departure from GOES Satellite imagery. Slow moving, thankfully, the front stalled across the Abaco
The Great Lakes are clearly visible to the north of the front
At 0800 we were motoring our way out of Lake Worth inlet along with plenty of big macho sports fishing boats that were blasting their way out towards the Gulf Stream fishing grounds to give their charterers the best opportunity to get amongst the big fish. We were left wallowing in their considerable wake with one boat managing to upset the ‘Admiral’s’ freshly made cup of tea at the helm. Sparks flew and the air was blue! It was really a last second decision to go but if it wasn’t this time then it could be another week before the weather would be suitable for the trip. If we could get across the stream and into the shelter of Grand Bahama Island by late afternoon when the north wind would have reached the Florida Straits we were assured that south of Grand Bahama there would be a huge wind shadow with calm seas. Thus presenting a perfect opportunity to get as far as the Berrys some one hundred and fifty miles from Lake Worth. Well that’s exactly what happened apart from a few minutes of concern approaching Freeport on Grand Bahama when the wind suddenly piped up from the wrong direction indicating that the cold front had spilled over into the Northwest Providence Channel. Shortly after the’ Admiral’ had retired to her cabin for her off watch sleepybobos the wind died away and the remainder of the trip was enjoyed motoring over calm seas surrounded by a profusion of cruise ships coming or going between the Caribbean and Florida.
Despite trailing our fishing lures it was not our day for catching anything. However we spotted many Man of War jellyfish with their translucent semi-circular plastic looking sails taking the Gulf Stream northwards and enjoyed the pleasure of a tiny yellow finch which arrived on the boat as we motored along. It looked exhausted but that didn’t stop it flying round the boat looking for places to roost for the night perhaps. At one point it actually landed on ‘Skip’s hand (aaaaahh) then a split-second later flew into the cabin (aaaggghhh!) colliding with the Perspex divider window before finding the open galley hatch and flying back out into the open air. Being a itty-bitty bird we couldn’t find any droppings anywhere so it obviously wasn’t too scared by our presence. Later it took off ahead of us when we were about ten miles from Grand Bahama and as far as we know never returned. Just hope the little critter made it safely to land.
In the end it was a twenty seven hour motoring trip all the way to Great Harbour Cay in the north Berrys where we are now relaxing for a week at a dock in the marina. The clearing in procedure was one of the easiest we have experienced with the young officer driving from the nearby airport to visit the boat and relieve us of $300 in exchange for our cruising permit.
Entering the cut at Great Harbour Cay...................passing through the lagoon towards the marina round to the left in the distance.................
Backed into Dock 35 in one of the safest Marinas in the Bahamas.................No, ‘Skip’s not praying to Mecca but merely checking the batteries
The island has some interesting history from the 60’s which we’ll cover in the next blog.