To the Bahamas

Valt & Sandy
Mon 21 Jan 2013 16:18
25:34:4N 79:18:2W
Jan. 21, 2013
At 4:30am we were headed to the Government Cut to exit Miami Harbor. We had to wait while a Carnival Cruise ship entered first. The winds were light with a 1-2' wave. But our 3' swell was there on our beam, too, again rocking us gently side to side. An hour out we spotted a freighter, Jennifer T. Our new VHF radio also displays AIS information. This information is broadcast continuously by all commercial vessels and some others. With AIS we know all about the vessel, including how close it will come to us, how soon, and whether we might collide if neither changes course. It was on course to pass within less than a quarter mile. Too close for comfort. We we altered course to pass behind him.

The Gulf Stream is a 35 mile "river" flowing north in the Atlantic Ocean alongside the U.S. coast. The trip across to the first of the Bahama Islands, Bimini, is 50 nm, so much of it is in the Stream. The current can be 2-3 knots, pushing us northward when we want to head due east. As we got to the middle of the Stream, the swells became more intense, rocking us more, but lessened the nearer we got to the Bahamas. All in all it was a good crossing.

A big black cloud appeared over the Islands, heading toward our intended entry, the Gun Cay Cut. We raced to beat it there and arrived minutes before the cloud burst. The Cut is narrow, and only passable on its north side. Once through, we were in the Great Bahama Bank. What a difference! The water is turquoise, crystal clear and scarcely 10' deep, less in some places. The VHF radio crackled and we heard a lilting Bahamian voice. We were really here. Following a carefully charted route with no marker buoys, we threaded our way through sand bars til we reach 15'. Then we set our course for the NW Channel Shoal Light, some 58 nm to the east.

Arriving at 7:30 pm, we dropped anchor and looked around. We noted the positions of the Shoal Light and the Light marking the narrow channel leaving the Bank. Only one anchor light was visible. We ate our dinner and went to bed. It had been a long day. And tomorrow would be, too.

Internet coverage will be spotty for many days, and so entries will be sparse. And no email. Sorry.