On our way to the US of A

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Thu 30 Mar 2017 19:57
In position 26:59.00, 078:12.97W Great Sale Cay, Abaco
We are at that most important staging post of Great Sale Cay in the middle of the Little Bahama Bank. It’s only a little bank when compared to the Great Bahama Bank which stretches for 250 miles north to south and is over 15,000 square miles in sea area. The Little Bahama Bank comes a poor second at less than 1500 square miles but seems mighty big enough when you have to motor all the way across before you even reach the western edge. Then another 60-80 miles across the Florida Straits on to Fort Pierce. Great if you have a fast sport-fish boat capable of 25 knots plus but an awful long way at 5-6 knots.
So whilst Great Sale has no facilities or human habitation and definitely no internet (there’s no tower for miles around) it does boast a good secure anchorage that can accommodate easily over 100 boats which are usually transiting between the States and the Cays further east. Last night when we arrived there were over 25 boats and this morning at daybreak nearly all the power boats departed leaving the yachts which have a different time, tide and wind requirement given that they are generally slower. There are now just 6 boats left and the absolute silence in this remote Cay is deafening. (Until somebody starts an engine or raises their anchor).  Such rarity in the world we live in. There’s hardly a breath of wind forecast for sailing so motoring over 24 hours from our current position to Fort Pierce we will have certainly forgotten what real silence is by the time we get there.
There is a need to resist the herd mentality, which strongly kicks in as you see other boats depart, and stick to your calculated departure time. Some will motor in daylight only and so will cross the banks when it’s still light. They then park in the middle of nowhere in a few feet of water near one of the various waypoints for heading off the banks into the deep gulfstream water of the Florida straits. Others will go day and night regardless. It’s not uncommon when transiting those waypoints in the dead of night when conditions are calm to see a whole array of anchor lights ahead of you. Many who anchor on the banks will have some horror stories when weather has unexpectedly changed for the worse in the wee hours.
m_20170328_125622 m_20170328_125922
The anchorage at remote Great Sale Cay. Room for everyone but you certainly wont stay too long here if you can help it.
The weather for the last few weeks in the Abaco, since arriving from Eluthera, has not been that kind. We sat out a front in Man O War, another in Marsh Harbour (albeit a weak one) and another in Manjack Cay. We were fortunate however to catch up with numerous friends in Marsh Harbour and ManO War Cay so no complaints. We all have good times together but the season for us is almost at a close and it’s time to head back to Titusville and put Ajaya to bed for another summer. There’s much to do both down below, on deck and on the hulls themselves below the waterline. Our flights back to the UK have already been brought forward a day to the 9th May which gives us around 4 weeks to do what is necessary.
m_20170318_124404 m_20170322_122536
A rock full of ruddy turnstones – cheeky chappies one and all                         Infamous Whale Cay which is exposed to the might of the Atlantic providing boaters with some scary moments
So we took the earliest window to transit the Whale Passage. A nasty piece of real estate exposed to the western Atlantic around which we must navigate in order to reach the western Abaco area. Once through it’s simply a matter of waiting for a satisfactory window of calm weather to cross the Gulfstream back to Florida.
Update 29th March
We are now back in the USA after a 23 hour motoring passage which went smoothly. The engines kept running and nothing broke. The seas were glassy calm on the banks but the Gulfstream had some goodly swells, but overall we had no worries. Each time we cross the stream ‘Skip’ insists next time it will be a ‘text book’ event. We were rewarded with a fine sunset, sunrise and a small mackeral for our troubles but Oh! dear it seems to take forever to deal with those last 15 miles!
m_20170328_192527  m_20170328_192559
Glassy calm waters at sunset -
The sun is back the next morning as it rises behind us. Just another 40 miles to Fort Pierce!