Wednesday, we departed Lake Worth Inlet at 0700, en route to Memory Rock (50nm) where we would enter the Little Bahamas Bank and turn east for Great Sale Cay (45nm). Arriving at midnight, we dropped anchor and slept. Next day, onward to Green Turtle. We had the “Mother of all WX Windows” as perfectly predicted for a week by www.PredictWind.com. This service is so exact that it has become our primary service, in addition to Chris Parker. Last year, when we ran the Thorny Path, (Bahamas to US Virgin Islands) it was dead on for many passages. (Thank you, Don Roy of buddy boat FEZYWIG, who turned us onto Predict Wind while in the Turks.) This time, Predict Wind had a great WX window identified for a week in advance so we targeted Wednesday am to take the calm south winds across the Gulf Stream. Here is a picture of the entire route we ran.
Mahi Mahi FISH ON
This was our 12th Gulf Stream crossing and many times we have trailed fishing lines behind the boat times. We have never caught a fish. Everyone jokes that Island Spirit can’t catch fish. Well, to change that, last year, I started using my old cedar plugs and we started catching fish. Last year, we caught two nice sized tunas and this year, 2-3 hours out of Lake Worth inlet, we landed a 40″ Mahi Mahi. THE SPELL IS BROKEN! Team Island Spirit CAN catch FISH! DONE. It was so exciting and also very exhausting as I fought the fish to the boat. In fact, it was a full hour Chinese Fire Drill. The fish ran out a bit of our 60 lb line until I could increase the drag to stop it. Radeen, at the helm, slowed the boat down. Then the fish pulled a smart move and dove under the stern and wrapped the line around the dinghy davits. I was on port with the fish now off to my starboard stern. Now, it was getting serious. “RADEEN, turn the boat to port, circle left!” “WAIT, the MAINSAIL is still up!” “So what? There is only 5-10 knots of wind.” I fought the fish with the rod aft and over the davits and managed to get the line free. Now the fish took a run to our starboard side and went for full air, leaping totally out of the water trying to shake this single hook. I kept full tension on the line and brought the fish to the side of the boat. WOW, what a beauty!
Rookie mistake not having gloves on, I barehanded the 60 lb test line and secured the fish to the side of the hull next to the cockpit. With the gaff in my left hand and the line in my right, I missed try #1. OH BOY, the fish went nuts and the line around my hand started to dig into my fingers. Try #2 I gaffed the back 1/3 of the fish, right where I wanted to, and pulled him up tail first. Now with the fish on the gaff, I could lasso the tail with a preset line. NOW I GOT HIM. I could hold the fish with the rope AND the gaff and cut the gills over the side. This allows the blood to drip into the water and NOT all over the boat. After 4 cuts with the filet knife and one whack to the head with a winch handle, I had the fish killed. We now tied the fish to the top lifeline and hung it there to bleed out. OH MY GOSH! That was CRAZY. We snapped some great photos and then proceeded to filet the fish and bag the meat for the frig. That night on the Bahama Banks, we had Mahi Mahi fish tacos, yum yum. Here are the best photos. ENJOY….
ONE HAPPY FISHERMAN, Hayden
Here is my favorite photo. Radeen did a great job getting the photos. WOW, that was a big fish to land on a sailboat. My comment is…. imagine landing this fish in your living room, then sitting on the sofa and cutting filets off on your living room floor. YUP….fishing on a cruising sailboat. Imagine the clean up!
Motor Sailing the Stream up onto the Bahama Banks
With this “mother of all weather windows,” we continued to motor sail toward Memory Rock, but we discovered that if we headed more northerly to the next waypoint, Little Bahama Bank, we would pick up 1 knot of speed. So we kept going northeast with the boat pointed on about 110-120 degrees but making 70-80 degrees over the bottom, doing 7.2 knots. We liked it and it put us onto the banks by 1600. One of the beautiful situations of this leg is that the Gulf Stream is so blue, dark indigo blue. Then, going from 2000 foot deep water up and over the shelf onto the Bahama Banks, the water colors change to a spectacular teal blue (Kathy Heck, IP380 Tianui) and all the shades in between. This color change happens during about a half of a mile and it is breathtaking. We tried to photograph the various colors and here are a few water color photos…..
FOOD: How do you eat while underway
Radeen is a great cook onboard and at home. She plans and makes wonderful meals at sea and when we are on anchor. For example, here was our dinner created at 1830 while underway on the Little Bahama Banks:
Traveling at NIGHT! How do you see?
One of the hard parts about making long boating trips is that you have to travel in the dark. We have learned to use radar as our number one tool. It is the only thing that will tell you that there is nothing solid in front of you. Remember, we do not slow down, we are on passage and we want to get there, so it is full steam ahead in the black of night. Radar is #1. As the sun goes down, we prepare the boat and ourselves for nighttime. Red LED lights, red LED headlights, instruments set to nighttime mode, the enclosure down because it will be cold, and then we keep simply going. I am really proud of Radeen because how she knows how to run all our gear and the boat. She is not afraid to stand watch at night offshore.
Finally, we reach Great Sale Cay, 2330 hours
Here is the review, the map, of our route. We have made this eastward Bahama runs seven times now, and we really enjoy the trip, especially when you can wait for the best weather window and go with a south wind. Thank you all for sailing along with us, it is great to share the adventures….