Category Archives: Cruising

The Abacos are Awesome

It’s been a great season. I’ve been traveling with Polynya and we’ve been from one end of the Abacos to the other. Grand Cay to Little Harbour.

The old light house at Little Harbour
Little Harbour
On The Tribute heading for Hopetown
Caves on the road to Cherokee Sound
Did some work on the schooner William H Albury
It’s a submarine!
Before Dawn in Marsh Harbour
One of many hundreds of islands at Snake Cay

Back at Allans Pensacola

Hurricane Hole at Pensacola

The forecast was for strong trade winds and fast moving cold fronts so Skylark is back at Allans with Polyna only this time we’re anchored in the lagoon at the southeast end of the island. We’ve been here over a week as the fronts keep rolling down, something about the jet stream, cyclogenesis, the polar vortex and techy weather stuff that I’m struggling to comprehend.

Early morning run to make the tide.

We anchored overnight in the main anchorage which is open to the west and left before dawn to make high tide as we entered the lagoon. There’s 2 other boats in the lagoon with Polynya and Skylark, both power boats and really nice folks.

Its 4+ feet all the way to the mangroves.

Skylark has 2 anchors down and we’re tied to the mangroves. The strongest winds in these events are from the southwest and northwest, we’re setup so the mangroves are roughly northwest. Being inside a hole like this, the wind is definitely diminished but sometimes becomes gusty or comes from odd directions. I shift and adjust the lines as the wind clocks around to keep them from getting tangled and to help Skylark lay as quietly as possible.

Atlantic side.

There’s a short trail to the Atlantic side of the island and it’s beautiful there. Stunning really with several small islands not far from the beach and the reef beyond them. The colors of the sky, the clouds and the water are amazing.

Who? What? Where?

There’s always a lot of stuff on the beach. Trash mostly that washes up but sometimes interesting items. We found this inside a bottle. Wonder what it could be or where it came from?

Hiking the wall at Allans
The wall.

John on Polynya heard there was an old wall on the island and suggested we hike to it. It’s partly visible on a satellite view of the island. Heavily overgrown now it’s quite large and well constructed of the native limestone. John, being something of a human GPS took us straight to it. We hiked a good portion of it walking on top of and next to it speculating on what purpose it might have served and who built it.

The forecast for the coming week is for favorable weather and if it holds we’ll probably move out of here around Wednesday or Thursday.

The Hole in White Sound

Survey of the hole.

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.

Navionics chart

The entrance is very shallow. Less than three feet at low tide and rocky. Narrow.

It doesn’t look narrow in the picture but it is!

It ended up to be quite easy to get in about an hour before high tide.

Polynya at anchor in the lake

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

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.

Cruiser’s signing tree.

Great Sale Cay

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