April 22 and time to continue our journey north away from the Nassau area toward the Berry Islands. Our goal was to anchor near a few islands then head toward Grand Bahama Island.
After a full day of sailing and watching the sky darken and the winds pick up, we were ready for our anchorage near Little Harbor Cay.
It is always a bit frightening to go between two islands or an island and a reef, and here we are again. With the wind blowing, but the tide going with us, we headed into our destination. The Berry Islands are beautiful, not quite like the Exumas, but with their own beauty. We rounded Little Harbor and found our anchorage between Cabbage Cay and Little Harbor. Wow….it’s super shallow here! And it’s high tide! The tides here are around 3 feet, so anchoring in 10 feet of water gives us 7 feet at low tide……and we draw 6 1/2 feet. That’s 6 inches to spare! OK, we did it and Dale dove on the anchor, dodging jellyfish. It was set well, so we felt secure.
There was a small inlet to a local family owned restaurant that we wanted to visit. We would have to wait for the weather to improve, maybe tomorrow. Again the wind blew all night and we swung in huge circles. Fortunately we were alone in the anchorage, so it really didn’t matter. In the morning the wind died a bit, but the seas were still pretty big. We donned our masks and snorkels during low tide to see just how close we were to the bottom….yep….6 inches! We waited for the seas to abate, but they only got worse. Guess we will have to skip the restaurant.
We left Little Harbor on the morning of April 25 as the tide was going out. We had to time it before the lowest tide in case we found a spot that was less than 7 feet, but still while the tide was going out so that we did not have seas crashing into us as we headed between the island and the reef.
We knew that a “blow” was coming and that it would be from the Southeast. We picked an anchorage that offered the most protection from those winds. Protection is a loose term in the Bahamas as the flat islands don’t offer nearly the wind protection that we would like. So on to Soldier Cay we went. We were joined by three other boats as they came out of a different anchorage. They were headed in our direction. Hmmm…..our charts show that Soldier Cay will hold MAYBE 3 boats. They were motoring, but we preferred to sail, so they eventually passed us. What would we do if this anchorage was full? We scoured the charts, not much protection from any direction. Guess we will take our chances. As we approached Soldier Cay, we saw only one other boat, who left as soon as we were anchored….was it something we said?! We dropped the hook and dove on it. It was set well and we had adequate depth at low tide (9 feet).
The anchorage was relatively calm, so we dropped Tiny in the water and paddled to shore. We had our own private island and we explored it fully before heading back. We hid in this “protected” anchorage for four nights.
It was now time to depart for our final stop, Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island. We had a slip in the marina reserved there. This is the first time in a real marina since we had left Jamaica and we were anxious to get there. This was a 80 mile trip, too much for a day, so we left at 4:30 p.m. for an arrival at high tide around 10 the next morning. The marina was through a reef and a canal. There was a spot that was 6 1/2 feet deep at low tide. Too close for comfort, so we would plan our arrival for high tide.
We had a beautiful night sailing with the wind at our back. Even with only our head sail, we were flying along. There must be a current here. We dodged container ships and other sailboats. As we got closer to Lucaya, we noticed several cruise ships bobbing around. They were just floating! No where to park those behemoths? So here we were dodging literally every kind of boat/ship and getting closer and closer…..too fast! We pulled the sail in to leave out just a scrap and still we made great time. We arrived at around 4 a.m. and spent the next 5 hours turned around heading into the current to stop our progress.
At last it was time to wind our way into the marina with it’s solid concrete docks. We slowly and cautiously headed into our slip with the assistance of Fabian, the dock master. Tied to a dock at last!