December 12, 2021
We consulted our weather “guru” about a Gulf Stream Crossing. Doesn’t look good. So we prepared ourselves for a few days at anchor with the 100 boats in Lake Worth. But, on November 26th, he advised us of an upcoming weather window. Leave at 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 27 and be out of the Gulf by 7:00 a.m. on Sunday the 28th. Not really our favorite travel window, but with the treacherous Gulf Stream, we weren’t taking any chances, we would go.
First order of business on the 27th was to get out of our shallow marina at high slack tide. We would be able to glide over the 6 1/2′ shallow spot (we are 6 1/2′!) as well as have still water to be able to get out. Our time for slack was 2:30. We would be several hours early which would necessitate some time at anchor…..hopefully we would find a safe place. So off we went! Escaped the marina unscathed and ventured out into the busy harbor. Now to find a place that was not too close to other boats but also enabled us to make our late night escape.
We worked our way past a couple of barges and many other boats and turned in to the lake to find our place to anchor. We found one that wasn’t ideal, but would suffice. As we dropped the anchor and chain, we fell back toward a catamaran. Well…..not terribly close, but closer than we would normally anchor. We waited and watched. There was a great deal of traffic on a Saturday around us, making our anchorage very bumpy. We bumped and pulled until we were uncomfortably close to the cat. And now they were watching us too! OK, time to move. We pulled anchor and nosed around until we found another spot. And so we sat, watching and waiting for 10:00 p.m.
10:00 came and it was time to head out into the dark unknown. We pulled our anchor up and slowly eased out of the anchorage. We could hear tugs pulling barges on the VHF, but could not identify where they were. Hopefully we would not meet one going out the inlet. There was more traffic moving around than we expected, but we slowly made our way out. The seas were bumpier than we had thought, the wind had not slowed very much and the current at 3 knots was making it hard to make any headway. But on we went, slowly and a little uncomfortably, knowing that we needed to get out of this stream by morning. And it was dark…..very dark.
As the sun rose, we were still a ways off from the west end of Grand Bahama to check in. But the winds had died over night and the current was down to 1knot. We had forgotten how beautiful these waters were! Land ho and on we went to Grand Bahama.
We dropped anchor in the identified anchorage outside of Old Bahama Bay Marina, where we were supposed to check in. We hoisted our “Q” flag (yellow quarantine) and prepared to unstrap and lower the dinghy. We gathered our paperwork and jumped into the dinghy. As we traveled the 1/2 mile or so into the marina basin we noticed some dock hands on a dock. We motored over to them and asked where customs was. “You have to come in big boat”, what? Everything that we read said that we could anchor and come in. I guess that they have changed the rules! So back out we went. Up went the dinghy as well as the anchor and into the basin we motored. We were grateful for some help with our lines on their tall and rough dock. Paperwork in hand, we proceeded to check in with Customs, Immigration and Health. We could now remove our Q flag and hoist our Bahamian flag.
Knowing that the weather was going to deteriorate, we got underway as soon as we had checked in. On to the Berry Islands! This meant another overnight.
The weather was calm as we motored into the night across the NW Providence Channel. When we crossed this large body of water last spring, the cruise ships had not started up from their COVID lock down. This time was totally different! They were everywhere! Along with tankers and freighters and the occasional sail boat. Throughout the night we counted a minimum of 30 cruise ships traveling between Freeport and Nassau. Several times we had to scurry out of their way to keep from being mowed down. “Scurry” isn’t really accurate when you are talking about a sailboat going 5-6 knots. But we did move as quickly as possible.
We arrived in the Berry Islands by late the next morning. We anchored, rested and swam. The next day we traveled again, this time anchoring outside of Nassau and at Shroud Cay. On to Black Point Settlement and Leaf Cay over the next two days. We were working our way to Georgetown to meet cousins that had traveled to spend some time with us. It was a quick trip, but we had good weather and were now in Georgetown, Exumas!