Thursday April 9, 2015
The rigging is finished, the sails are on, the boat is fully stocked, and the weather is as much in our favor as we’re going to get it in the next week. We are ready for the Bahamas.
Joining back up with Joni and Bob, Matt and I drove ourselves out to Sunset Marina where Shamroga was sitting on a mooring ball and all ready for the five of us to leave. The fifth member of this party being Georgie, whom as soon as she was placed on board, took up her favorite hiding spot of that little open area under the gunnel where winch handles and sail ties are normally stored. I can only wait to see her get into the ones in Daze Off where there is no easy way to be able to retrieve her.
Setting off down the ICW we made our way toward Lake Worth while taking turns behind the wheel and letting Joni get comfortable on the VHF to call in bridge openings. Lunch was prepared for us on the calm waters of the Intra Costal and Matt and I had some of the tastiest grilled cheese sandwiches we’d ever sampled. Having the meals included on this trip was turning into a total bonus. Not that I had cracked one open while underway, but I did notice that Joni had stocked the boat up with a supply of Leinenkugel’s summer variety pack after I had mentioned last week that I had been dying to get my hands on a Berry Weiss at some point. Not that either of us were expecting this to be a tough job, but it was looking like it was turning into a very nice all inclusive vacation for us.
Since the day had a bit of a late start, I believe we pulled into the bay in Stuart around 2 pm, we were just sneaking into Lake Worth as the sun was about to go down on us. The guys took care of a few last minute preparations such as getting the dinghy and outboard on deck, while Joni cooked a delicious meal in the galley. Without much to do myself, and not with the physical ability to do any heavy lifting with the guys, I cracked open one of my Leinenkugels and watched as the sun set over Shamroga, preparing myself for an early night. With a 2:30 am alarm coming, we were going to need all the rest we could beforehand.
After dinner the four of us went about tucking everything away to make sure that nothing could bounce around or fall down, and checked the weather and tides one more time before tucking in for the night. I’d forgotten how exhausting a day of simply motoring a boat could be, and was more than ready for bed by the time 9 pm rolled around.
It turns out that having a spacious v-berth where you have the room to move about without rolling over on your partner in the process does help one to fall into a quick and deep sleep. By the time the alarm went off I felt like I had accumulated enough REM to face the next few hours of getting out the inlet before being sent back to bed. With Joni and I behind the wheel and Matt and Bob raising the anchor, we left Lake Worth and followed the green and red markers of the ICW toward the Palm Beach Inlet.
With the chart plotter on board giving some issues we were using Navionics between two tablets and one really good flashlight to keep ourselves on course. It took about an hour to get from the anchorage to the mouth of the inlet, but we were finally on our way! Engine still on and sails down because we were pointing directly into the wind, Joni and I went below for the first sleep shift while the guys navigated out into the Gulf Stream. Since the east winds were also pushing waves directly at us that were building up on the shallow banks surrounding the channel it was also quite a bumpy ride for the first hour. Even though we’d stowed everything away as best we could a few items still found their way out and I even had a book or two crash down on me while sleeping. I felt bad for not getting up right away to put them back, but with it being such an issue with my rib to get from a flat position to a sitting one, I just pushed them to the side to be dealt with later.
When it was time to wake up and go on watch we found that we weren’t making as good of progress as we’d been hoping, only moving at about 3.5 knots. With the last bits of the Florida shoreline still in sight it didn’t look like we’d be making it to West End by the early afternoon. More calculations determined that we may not even get there before sunset. But we did the best we could and just kept plugging along through the rest of the morning and into the afternoon.
Then in the early afternoon, a mini disaster struck. There were issues with the engine and it had to be shut off asap. As Matt and Bob went down to inspect the issues they could tell the alternator bracket had broke and something else was causing oil to spew out left and right. This didn’t look like it was going to be a quick and easy fix. When it was resolved that we couldn’t use the engine to get ourselves any further, possibly just for getting in a channel but that’s it, we hoisted the sails to see if the Bahamas were still an option. The News Bahamas is what one can look into to know the conditions there and if it is safe to travel.
Angling ourselves on a SW heading we were able to go close hauled enough to set a course toward West End. We still weren’t going fast by any means, about four knots once you took out the current working against us, but it was unanimous that we’d still rather make it there slowly than not at all. It also meant either a night time arrival or slowing ourselves down to arrive at daybreak. Checking over every single chart we had, Matt and I found an area that looked like it would be safe to anchor for a few hours, just outside the entrance to the Old Bahama Bay Marina where we’d made our reservation.
With some pretty smooth sailing for the rest of the journey and seas dying down to 1-2 ft it was quite an enjoyable ride and we all enjoyed lounging in the large cockpit until it was time for shifts again. We ended up pulling into the anchorage around 5 am and got ourselves set with no issues. Stating that we’d be up again in two hours to motor into the marina, that plan went out the window as we all allowed ourselves to catch up on a bit more sleep and enjoy a coffee and breakfast with the beautiful beach in front of us. But alas, it was eventually time to get ourselves inside the marina and checked in to the country.
As Shamroga was directed in through the channel and into a slip, we found ourselves in hands down the most gorgeous marina I have ever seen. It was idyllic. It was picturesque. It was everything you expect the Bahamas to be from movies and postcards and ads. Every building was well kept for and painted a bright color, there were white sand beaches with hammocks hanging from palm trees; and the famous clear Bahamian water. It may have been a lot of work to finally get here, but man was it worth it. A few hours later once all of us and the boat were legally inside, we raised the flag and popped the champagne. Welcome to the Bahamas baby!!