Sun 21 Feb 2010 23:00
Last night we left Bimini harbor around 5:30 and went around to the south side of the isalnd, thinking maybe we'd set out very early the next day to cross the Bahamas Bank to Andros. But as we prepared dinner, the wind dropped to nothing, the sea smoothed out, and we decided to leave immediately to take advantage of good weather while we had it. We motored until midnight, getting about a third of the way across the banks, and then anchored out there, quiet sea all around us to every horizon, in 10 feet of water. It was a really magical place -- stars overhead and clear water below lit by our anchor light. A tangerine-colored moon was setting.
We got up at 6 AM today and finished the crossing. Up until 1 PM it was all calm, and our wave heights were measured more as "wavelets" or "ripples." We stopped and anchored and took a swim. I think this starfish picture is worth using up some precious satellite minutes to post:
(Found that guy in ten feet of clear water right under our boat.)
Then we turned the corner to go down the east coast of Andros and the wind picked up. Wind from the southeeast, coming over the Tongue of the Ocean. We had hoped that waves from that side would be broken by the reefs on the outside, but if they were, it wasn't enough. We had to drive into 2-3 foot steep chop off our port bow. There was much bow slamming and spray-throwing. Then the 2-3 foot waves became 3-4 footers. We had to endure this for about three hours. It wasn't scary, but it wasn't pleasant, either. The wind kept picking up and the last hour was a bit worse, but we could see the end in sight.
Once we got into the sheltered harbor of Morgan's Bluff, the winds died down and the waves became nothing. The girls noticed a lot of water on the cabin floor when we finally anchored and it turns out the cover for one of the ballast tanks was loose and water was coming in. Not a big deal, but we were glad to know it wasn't a hole in the boat. In minutes the mattresses dried and we put things back in order.
We feel exhausted, and relieved, and sun and windburned (despite constant application of sunscreen) and ready to take a few days off from making passages. We may stay put for a few days and get work & school work done. Tomorrow is Monday, after all.
We met cruisers in this tiny harbor who have been living aboard their boats, tied to the dock for 11 weeks. The marina consists of a gas station and a bar and the brightly painted and eerily deserted fairgrounds that host an annual Bahamian wooden boat regatta in July. The closest town is Nicholl's Town -- about five miles away. The cruisers said they just start walking and someone gives them a ride.
Our goal is to cross to the Exumas or 1/2 way in New Providence (not Nassau) as soon as passage weather comes our way again, hopefully in a few days.