The wind usually blows NE to SE in the Bahamas. The trade winds. The trades. Relentlessly east flowing further south the trades in the Bahamas are strongly affected by high and low pressure systems coming off the US coast. When a low comes through the wind veers 360 degrees over the course of a few days. Almost all of the anchorages here are good for east component winds but when the wind goes west as the low approaches it’s time to hide. The SW and then NW wind can be quite strong. We’re expecting passage of a low in the next day or two. This one isn’t particularly strong so it seemed an excellent opportunity to check out a lake attached to White Sound on Green Turtle Cay. With a hand held fish finder in the dinghy I did a survey of the lake on Wednesday (depth in meters). The chart is shown below.
The entrance is very shallow. Less than three feet at low tide and rocky. Narrow.
It ended up to be quite easy to get in about an hour before high tide.
Linda is going to fly in on Sunday, we’re planning to stay in the lake until Monday when the wind goes East again.
Alan’s Pensacola Cay is in the North end of the Abacos. Uninhabited except for a few pigs. There was a US radar site here at one time but it’s been taken back by the lush vegetation. This was once two islands but a hurricane created a large bridge between them. Pretty beaches and a nice Anchorage. We stayed here a few nights before moving south to Green Turtle Cay for Junkanoo.
Skylark is anchored at Great Sale Cay. We’re hiding from very strong easterly trade winds 20 to 30 knots that started yesterday and expected to continue until Saturday. I was traveling with Polynya but left them yesterday. We had intended to anchor at Alan’s – Pensacola Cay but because the wind was strong and right on the nose we would have arrived after dark…and I can’t do dark. I have enough trouble seeing in the daytime and can’t see at all at night to navigate into an anchorage. And I wasn’t in a mood to take any risks because of what had happened earlier in the day.
Polynya and Skylark crossed over to the Bahamas bank without too much excitement. The first few hours were a bit rough with a NW wind around 10-15 against the Gulf Stream but we sailed and motor sailed straight to Grand Cay where we spent a few days at Rosie’s Marina to hide from a strong weather front that passed through. We then moved a few miles south to Double Breasted Cay, a beautiful uninhabited group of small, long and narrow islands and rock formations. It was tricky getting in with lots of shoals and a very strong tidal current and I ran Skylark aground twice. It was rising tide and John from Polynya came over in the dinghy to help push me off. We spent a few days there, shared a few meals including Christmas dinner on Polynya. Yum.
We left the day after Christmas on a rising tide and I ran up on the same shoal I hit on the way in. Only thing was, now even though the tide is rising, the current and a strong wind were pushing me further up onto the shoal. I couldn’t work Skylark loose and couldn’t even maintain position so We could float off on the tide. There was no way for Polynya to help since it wasn’t safe to try and stop or even to anchor outside and dingy back in because of the strong current. It was quite frightening and my prospects looked bleak. One tactic in this situation is to set an anchor and haul on it to pull the boat off the shoal or at least hold position while the tide rises. Way too much current and the tide was looking kind of high already which meant I didn’t have much time. I had forgotten to take the outboard off the dinghy like I planned to but I didn’t want to try using it as I was afraid if Skylark came loose she’d go flying into the rocks on the other side if the narrow channel. But I had to do something so with the dinghy still tied to Skylark, I tried pushing on the bow with the dinghy. Skylark slowly swung back about 45 degrees but wouldn’t go further. So I tied a line to the engine kill switch in the dink, tied the other end to the lifeline on Skylark and left Patch the ink pushing as hard as he could on the bow. With Skylark at full throttle she started inching forward. Now I’m wondering if there’s enough gas in the dink. After much sweating swearing and revving of engines Skylark was free! Run forward to yank Patch’s kill switch, run back to the helm to miss that big rock and out we went. Whew. That was bad.
So I’ll lay low here for a couple of days. Hope to meet up with Polynya after the blow. Here’s our position data.
At 12/30/1899 12:00 AM (utc) our position was ??°??.??’N ???°??.??’E
It’s been a crazy crazy summer but it’s finally come together. Lots of stories to tell and pictures to share. Chaos and hurricane and lots of sweat. And swearing. There was swearing. The stories and pictures are all coming I promise but for now here’s a picture of Lake Worth, Florida taken tonight as Skylark waits to cross to the Bahamas. If the forecast holds we’ll leave tomorrow morning. I’m on Skylark alone but traveling with a boat named Polynya. That’s Polynya’s anchor light just ahead. A wonderful Canadian couple I met in the Abacos last year. Now did I forget anything…..
We have decided to leave Skylark in New Bern N.C. for the summer. She will be staying at the New Bern Grand Marina undergoing “beautification”. She will be dressed up and ready to sail back to the Bahamas in the fall. New dodger, Bimini and full enclosure. (Steve would not let me put sequins on her. Sigh.).
Some before and after pictures of Skylark. [image3.jpeg]
By the way… New Bern is a fun little town.