Saturday, September 23, 2023

May 21-22, 2023 Crossing from the Abacos to Ft Pierce

 5-21 Sunday  We figured it would be close to 24 hours to reach Ft Pierce, FL  We did’t have to leave early in the morning, because if we took less time, we would be entering the inlet and anchoring in the dark.  We slept in a bit because we woke during the night with bites from no-see-um”s.  I did my PT, as always.  That has really helped my back this year in the Bahamas.  We brought our bed mattress and sheets out into the salon to make a bed on the dining table.  It’s much smoother sleeping here than in the v berth at the bow while you are under way.  Dave had to store the dock lines and fenders and put away my snorkel gear.  I made breakfast and cleared the galley and stabilized everything on the counters so they wouldn’t end up on the floor if we heeled.  
We left at 11:30am on a beautiful calm day.  The waters are such a beautiful blue green color.  I always miss that and can’t wait to get back.  It took us 4 hours to get to Sale Cay.  That is usually where we stop when we come over from the States. 


 At about 5:30, we set sails, along with the motor, and took them down about 8:00pm.  The direction of the wind wasn’t favorable for sailing.  We had a nice pasta dinner (that I had prepared yesterday) about 7:00.  


Then I cleaned up the galley, showered and went to bed about 8:00pm.  I didn’t really sleep until I put in ear plugs about 9:30.  The engine is pretty loud inside the boat.  I set an alarm of 1:00 to take over for Dave, but didn’t hear it and woke up on my own at 1:30.

5-22 Monday.  I took over  watch at 2:00.  We were already in the middle of the Gulf Stream.  So only about 40 miles to go at 7mph.  There was a cruise ship passing in front of us.  Dave said there had been about 6 of them tonight.  I guess they all leave port on Sundays in Florida.  There were a few sailboats heading back to the US, like us, and a tow boat pulling a barge.  So I had no trouble staying awake.  I was constantly checking positions of the other ships.  I didn’t have to change course because of them, so all was good.  


You could see the glow of lights on the horizon from the city lights of Florida all along the coast.  About 25 miles out, I could see the flashing red lights of the inlet for Ft Pierce.  I always enjoy the sunrise, which was at about 6:30am.  

I woke Dave when we were about 5 miles out, so he would have time to wake up and clear his head before anchoring.  The inlet was the smoothest we had ever seen it.  Actually the whole trip was very nice.  We anchored just off the inlet at 7:30 am, a 20 hour passage.  Good timing.  Dave used the Customs and Border Patrol app, ROAM, to check in to the US online.  We had a quick response of “welcome to the United States, enjoy you stay.”  The rest of the day was spent taking turns napping.  We both felt out of sorts.  Can’t pull those “all nighters” like I used to,  TeeHee. 

May 19-20, 2023 Moving through the Abacos

 5-19 Friday We prepped the boat for crossing to the Abacos.  Besides our usual morning routines, we had a few things to do before leaving.  Dave raised the dinghy.  We had the 20hp Mercury outboard on it’s mount on the stern.  Dave had put it there by himself several weeks ago.  Today, he used my help to turn it around on the mount so the prop would be outside of the cockpit.  Dave had raised the dinghy first, so that caused a little headache as the prop was up against it, but all worked out ok.  I use a pulley system with a winch to lift the motor, while Dave man handles the motor off the mount, rotate it and place it back on the mount.  Dave had to secure the fuel jugs on the deck that were filled yesterday.  After all was said and done, we left about 11;30 for the 8-10 hour passage to the Abacos.


it's strange how the clouds pick up the blue of the water

 We passed through the Egg Island cut about 12:30 and made our turn north.  We had a few rain showers the first couple hours, but the winds weren’t too bad, around 18-20k.   At 1:00, we put out the Jenny (forward) sail.  That got us moving at 9k with the 18-20k wind. 

 Around 2:00, we could see on the radar that there were going to be 3 ships passing in front of us in the North East Providence Channel.  We can check with our AIS where they are heading.  One was Houston, and one Brussels.  The third one was a tug pulling a barge and it said it’s destination was Jacksonville, but it was heading east.  Must not have updated their information.  What’s interesting is that the tug shows up on the AIS, but not the barge.  There’s quite a long cable between the two of them.  We have heard horror stories of people crossing behind the tug in the dark and having their mast broken by that cable or their keel caught on it.  You need to be smart enough to realize a tug this far off shore would be towing something.  We ended up having to change course for a short time to go behind one of the ships.  We don’t want to get too close to them in case they change their direction.  If we were concerned, we would have called them by radio to see if they were going to maintain their course.  That was our heaviest traffic for the day.  

boat just the the right of the mast that we could see on radar

We averaged about 8k all day and arrived at the cut into Little Harbour by 7:20 and were anchoring by Lynyard Cay around 7:30, right at sunset.  Turned out to be a good day, even with the late start.
5-20 We left our anchorage at 9:00am and had breakfast underway.  We moved through the Abacos without stopping for the first time ever.  We were at the Whale cut about 1:00.  The water was the flattest we had ever seen it.  It’s usually pretty rough water since nothing is stopping it for hundreds of miles. We wanted to refuel before crossing as far north as possible.  We researched Spanish Cay marina.  They were open until close to dark, so no worries about being there before 5:00.  We arrived about 4:30.  They had a nice fuel dock that we were able to pull up to vs taking fuel jerry cans in the dinghy.  They cater to high dollar fishing boats and even have a swimming pool and restaurant.  I think the fuel dock is as far as we will go.  Felix, the dock master, was very complimentary on my docking of the boat.  Nice to hear.  It was an easy in and out with only dock lines on the port side, no fenders.  We will probably stop here in the future.  

had to capture that blue water one more time

We moved on to anchor at Allens-Pensicola.  I guess it used to be 2 islands, but storms have changed the geography.  There were several boats inside the shallow harbor, so we just anchored on the outside.  There wasn’t much wind predicted, so we figured it would be fine.  We were anchored by 6:00pm.  I wanted to get in the water one more time.  So I put on my snorkel gear and swam out to check the anchor.  With the sun setting, and a grassy bottom, it seemed kind of dark.  So I didn’t bother swimming to shore.  I returned to the boat for a shower and dinner and a good night’s sleep before crossing to the US. 

May 15-18, 2023 Spanish Wells snorkeling and sandbar

 5-15 Monday. We discussed our plans for the next couple weeks.  Weather can be an issue trying to get back to the States.  We decided to start heading north and watching the weather for an opportunity to cross the Gulf Stream.  We had to pass through the Current Cut today.  It’s always a guessing game as to what the tide is doing and when slack tide would be.  Low tide at Nassau was at 11:00.  Current Cut is supposed to be 90 minutes to 2 hours after Nassau, which would be 12:30-1:00.  We were at Current Cut at about 5:00pm, about mid way between low and high.  The current was against us.  We watched another sailboat go through ahead of us and decided to proceed.  We had been traveling at 7knots.  About a mile out from the cut, the current slowed us to about 5:5kn.  We kept dropping as we approached the cut to 4 then 3.  And we stayed at 3 knots as we passed through the cut.  Everything was fine, but if you can’t motor against the current, you will lose control of the steering of your boat.  
We anchored near Russel Island and made water that night.  When we run the engine, it heats our water.  So we had great showers.  Easily pleased.
5-16 Tuesday We planned to have a day in the water, but Dave didn’t sleep well.  So the day was spent doing domestic chores.  I was pretty bored that afternoon, so I took may snorkel gear and swam around our boat.  I found 2 sea urchins.  I wanted to replace the ones that I lost off of the stern deck in a wind storm a couple weeks ago.  After swimming, I used a “floatie” and relaxed on the water.  Dave hung a swinging chair off of our arch on the stern of the boat.  It was a beautiful evening with very calm waters.

live sea urchin with shells stuck to it

mangrove jellyfish-they look like a plant


5-17 Wednesday.  Today was our water day.  We loaded up the dinghy with snorkel gear, spearfishing gear and a picnic lunch including adult beverages.   I moved the 2 sea urchins of of the stern deck and into the cockpit for safe keeping.  I figured I would pack them up when I got back.  Dave decided to go back onto the boat to get gasoline for our outboard.  Well, in the process of getting gasoline, he crushed my sea urchins.  I guess it wasn’t meant to collect them this year.  
We took the dinghy to the north side of Royal island near the small Golding Island.  We had never snorkeled the south side of that island, so started there today.  There wasn’t much to see, but Dave found a beautiful conch. 

Then we moved to the north side of the island.  The reef here is so diverse.  We just love floating along with the dinghy as the current, or wind, takes us.
you can see the top of the coral at the surface of the water


 We moved to a sandbar between Royal and Golding islands.  We had our picnic and beverages.  Dave cleaned the conch while we were here.  It’s really slimy and he figured he could use the sand to help clean his hands.  He ended up using his textured diving gloves.  Nice job.  We had a great conch salad when we got back to the boat.  I am going to add this shell to my collection.


live conch, but too small to carry

live conch, small

helmet conch


you can see the track where the conch moved

Dave cleaning conch





5-18 Thursday .  I listened to our marine weather forecaster this morning on the Single Side Band radio at 6:30am.  It sound like there is a front moving south along the coast of the US and will be in Florida by Monday and then hang around most of the week.  We decided we better get back to the US while the getting is good.  We moved the boat closer to Spanish Wells, only about 3 miles, but a shorter dinghy ride.  
We took the dinghy in for a few errands.  We went to Pinder’s market to use their dock. We bought diesel fuel and a few groceries.  We also dropped off our garbage there.  After those errands were completed, we walked to Buddha’s for our favorite meal.  I had their pine burger that had grilled pineapple on it.  And Dave had their chicken wings.  Fun place and good food.

chicken coupe

Back at the boat, we made water.  I also cooked up some of the meats I had in the freezer, hamburger and Italian sausage.  You can’t enter the US with raw meat that is not in it’s original wrapping.  I remove the meat from their package and vacuum seal them.  This way they will be cooked and easier for me to make meals while traveling.