Another week has flown by already so I better get this out to you. It may not be that long (oops, it was!) as we’re in preparation for tomorrow and crossing the gulf stream back to Florida. It will be a very long trip and probably take more than 24 hours, so we’re getting things set tonight to leave about 7:00 am on Friday, April 12, and hope to reach Ft. Pierce around noon-ish or mid-afternoon on Saturday. It’s about 160 miles from here, and at an average of 6 knots an hour it would take us almost 27 hours. If the gulf stream helps our speed, then maybe a bit earlier, but we want to leave plenty of daytime on Saturday in case it takes longer.
Why are we going back already? It seems like we may be leaving a bit earlier than we originally thought, which was probably around the first part of May, but as we worked our way north through the Abacos it just seemed like we saw the things we wanted to and we got the itch to get back to the States. And there is a great weather window for the next 2 – 3 days so we thought we would take advantage of it and head out.
Last Friday, April 5, we moved the boat about 7 miles to the west side of Egg Islandp to position ourselves to cross to the Abacos on Saturday. It was a crossing of about 55 miles and went pretty well other than encountering large swells that often hit the boat at different angles. We ended up motor sailing as the wind was only about 8 – 9 knots from the SE, so aft of our beam off the starboard side. But with the mainsail out and the motor at only about 2200 RPM we flew along at 7.8 – 8.0 knots. Unfortunately, the swells grew a bit and were probably in the 8 – 9 foot range, and caused some discomfort on the boat. This was another reason we kept the motor going – to get out of it as soon as possible. Thankfully they were swells and there was no chop or banging of the boat, but it always looks strange when the boat kind of goes down inbetween the troughs only to rise over the next swell.
We anchored at Lynard Cay that Saturday afternoon at 1:00 pm and had a nice afternoon of the water being calm. It was Dave’s birthday as well, so it was a good time to celebrate that too!
We moved about 13 miles on Sunday, April 7, to Pelican Bay, just outside of Hope Town. Hope Town is famous for its lighthouse that is still lit by kerosene at night and is still run by a lightkeeper. Apparently it’s the only one of its kind left yet in the world. We took the dinghy into Hope Town harbor and had a nice walk around the quaint little town. It kind of reminded us of Mackinac Island in a way. The next morning, before we left, I took the dinghy back and climbed the lighthouse. The staircase up was very narrow and was spiral shaped, but the view from the top was worth the climb.
We found out the water available at the marina in Hope Town harbor is probably the cleanest water available, which isn’t really saying much from what we found out, so we took the boat into the marina to fuel up and fill our water tanks. We found out that it is quite difficult to find water in Eleuthera and the Abacos, and since we don’t have a watermaker we had to hunt around to find any. A number of marinas around have water, but the posted cleanliness of the water they provide is not good. We could have got some in Spanish Wells, but the guy finally told us it was actually rain water. Could have been ok, but we didn’t get any.
Oh, I should add that where we anchored was very shallow at low tide, which we knew from the charts, but we ended up with plenty of water under us! We need 4’9”, and the lowest we saw was 5’4” – plenty of water! Gulp! But we never touched bottom – except for the sandbar I guess we plowed through just south of Hope Town. We were tooling along in about 9’ of water and suddenly we felt the boat tip forward but then right itself. It did look like a sandier spot, and as it was sort of at a convergence of two smaller entry ways we figured it was just some shoaling. Thankfully there weren’t any rocks down there!
After leaving Pelican Harbor/Hope Town area on Monday, April 8, we went about 8 miles to Marsh Harbour. They say this is a great place to provision and rest for a bit, and it was. We got laundry done there, got groceries and Sharon even repaired part of our dodger where the zipper had broke. The harbor was quite busy with a lot of boats, and we were surprised at how murky the water was. But it was good holding and we ended up staying there a couple of nights. Interestingly, we even saw the leader of the Sail to the Sun Rally there on his boat, Wally Moran. Good to see him again!
Wednesday, April 10, saw us leaving Marsh Harbour for Green Turtle Cay, about 21 miles. It was a good trip with the wind from behind us at about 6 – 7 knots, so we once again motor sailed. Unfortunately we started having difficulties with our chartplotter in that it is becoming unresponsive, or very slow to respond to touch commands, and it has basically become almost non-functional even through today. Thankfully we have my cell phone with Navionics on it, so that is what we’ll h use to get us back to Florida – which will work fine, just not as nice. Oh well.
This morning Sharon got a great ride in on her paddleboard before the wind started to pick up a bit. I spent some time under the boat looking at the zinc anodes on the prop shaft. I was all ready to replace them here frankly because you can see underwater here to replace them, unlike what we’ll have in the States. But after looking at the anodes and comparing the sizes of the ones I put on in January with new ones, they really didn’t look bad, so I didn’t replace them. I also spent a bunch of time scrubbing off the bottom of the boat again as there was some build up of algae and grey fuzz. I have been working on cleaning the bottom for the past couple of months as I know, again, that I won’t be able to do that in the States because of the condition of the water. At some point I’ll have to have the boat pulled and apply new bottom paint, but I’d like to wait until the end of summer to do that rather than once we get back to Florida.
We had been contemplating returning to Florida at some point next week, but in looking at the weather it sounds like this weekend was looking good to cross. So early afternoon today we made the decision to just go for it in the next couple of days. We got a weather routing from Chris Parker, so we’re set there, and later today we moved to Powell Cay just to get us a bit closer for tomorrow morning.
Sharon has been working on getting food set for the next couple of days, and the overnight, and I have made sure our jack lines are run, the emergency gear is set, and that we are good to go. We should be set on diesel if we end up running the engine the whole time. If it takes us 28 hours, we should only use about 22 gallons of fuel (our tank is 40 gallons) as we only burn 0.8 gallons an hour at 2500 RPM. The wind is projected to be from behind us so we will at least have our headsail out which will help in lowering our RPM’s, thereby reducing fuel consumption. (We also have 20 gallons of fuel in jerry cans, in case.) The waves are projected to be mild coming from the NE, so that shouldn’t cause any uncomfortable boat movement either. With the wind from behind us, we probably won’t be able to sail without the motor, but if it shifts to come from the north or south a bit then we could also shut the motor off.
So we’ll see how it goes tomorrow and Saturday! It is predicted to be pretty mild, so that will be a good thing. We are not ready to do the crazy crossing we did in coming over to the Bahamas, so it will be nice to have a smoother crossing. The moon is even about a quarter-moon, so that should give us some light overnight as well.
We’ll let you know how it all turns out!