Our 75 nm run from Great Stirrup Cay in the Berrys to Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island was a mix of sailing and motor sailing and then sailing again. We had planned to depart Stirrup Cay at sunset, which we did, and we planned to sail all night. One last look at radar showed storms coming. So, we smartly turned around and returned to safe anchorage and waited for them to pass. At 10:30. we were ready to sail again. but Radeen was looking at the Weather Bug radar app and it showed severe storms and thunderstorms tracking directly across our projected path, just beyond our 36 mile radar. Well, these storms came all night long just inches north of us right up until the last storm passed us at 7:30 am. Needless to say, we did not get much sleep that night! So, as the last storm was passing, we hoised a reefed main sail and sailed out behind the storm with the lightning just past us to the east. Here is a map of our passage.
What would a sail be without scones? So, I baked 16 scones and gave 4 away and packed up the rest for the next few days of sailing and travel. These are very easy to make from scratch, we simply use the basic recipe from King Arthur Flour. It is fun to bake on the boat.
Cruise Ships Lease these Islands
Royal Caribbean leases Little Stirrup Cay (aka Coco Cay) and Norwegian Cruise line leases Great Stirrup Cay. The ships anchor off their private islands and then ferry passengers, 5,000 of them, back and forth. WOW, it is crazy how packed the islands are. We sailed past these ships the day before as we moved into Great Stirrup Cay to stage up for the sailing northwest. A cruise is a great option for being here because you really need to get to the Bahamas to see the beautiful blue, blue ocean waters and the powder sand beaches.
Harness on and Hook in, it is off to sea
Radeen and I like to take these selfies as we head out to sea, it is something we do and cherish as we look back and remember the sailing trips we have taken. We wear harnesses and tethers which we hook onto the boat. The idea is to make sure no one falls off the boat, and if you do fall off, then you will not be lost. We have these on at sea all the time. Happy selfie as we head out after a sleepless stormy night on anchor.
Set Sails and Sail
After the storms passed, we had a perfect beam reaching wind for about 4 hours. We started with a reefed mainsail and then shook out the reef to a full main and even added the little staysail. Now under full sail, we were making 6 to 6.5 knots directly towards our destination. PERFECT. Here are some sailing shots.
SHAKE out THAT Reef
With our new mast and our new “Strong Track” and with my new simple single line reefing system (I removed the boom shuttle cars), our mainsail is really easy to reef and also easy to shake out the reef. Here I am after a simple shake out and under full sail with the staysail out as well. This is one happy bluewater sailing captain.
ERRRR, the Winds move FORWARD
WHY, WHY, WHY does the wind change direction? WHY? Especially when we are all set up, we have been sailing along for about 4 hours, all is perfect. We have a long way to go, and then, POOF, the wind moves from 180 degrees to 280-300 degrees and our course is 315. So, furl in the big jib, sheet in the staysail, lower the main back down to a reef and fire up the motor. We now set up for motor sailing with the wind 20-30 degrees off our port bow. We could sail this wind, we just would not get to our destination. When we are on passage, we keep the boat moving and we make sure it is moving towards our destination. Sailing is great, but we are not going to sail in the wrong direction just to sail. So, we motor sailed and hoped the wind would move back towards the south. Now it is waves and salt spray all over the deck and the windshield. One salty boat in a matter of minutes!
Look out, SHIP! Radar has it
While on passage, we set up our digital radar to have a Guard Zone set to 2-3 miles ahead of us, 1 mile wide and arching about 140 degrees. If anything solid enters this zone, an alarm starts to beep and alerts us to the position. The radar will cast a line in the direction of the target and we begin our visual search for the target. At 2 miles out, that is 20 minutes away, and 10 minutes if it is coming at you the same speed, so we like to find the targets quickly. Here is what our radar guard zone looks like. Also see the pointer named ALLEGRO, that is a ship sending out its AIS info.
Can you see the ship? Here is the view from the helm looking towards that ship. Do you see it?
Here, let me zoom in and NOW, you can see the ship. This is a calm day, and a ship is easy to spot, BUT, radar is still #1. it is your eyes at sea. We like AIS, but it is not #1 because many ships turn them off and some do not have AIS. So, radar is it. It is the only thing we count on to identify solid objects that we could hit and that could sink our boat. Look what radar found long before I saw it. Now that I know it is out there, 6 miles, I can watch it. Also, with AIS, I will be warned if there is any danger of a collision.
At night, this ship would be lit and we would have seen it much more readily. We also would think it is much closer at night, because the sea is so dark and a light, any light, will seem like it is running you down. With radar and AIS these situations are far easier. We really like our B&G Zeus3 and our B&G 4G radar.
Powering on, we enjoy the BLUE WATER
AS we powered onward, (yes, fishing, but catching ZIP) we took in the beauty of the blue water all around us. It is amazing how the sea color changes with the sky color and clouds and sun angle. These photos are around 1400 hours and the sun was bright. Look how blue the ocean really is….
SALT SPRAY EVERYWHERE
On a trip like this, the salt spray is over the bimini roof. Everything is covered in saltwater. The decks are soaked, the lifelines, the bow pulpit, the mast and boom and the windshield, all covered in salt spray. Then it dries and it leaves behind all the salt crystals. When you get into port or when you drop anchor, your entire boat is covered in dried salt. If you don’t wash it off, it gets in your shoes, you track it below decks, you sit in it and your clothing becomes salty and damp. Your hands and feet get salty. It is a pet peeve of ours, so we wash it all off after every sail. It takes about 5-7 gallons of water and about an hour for both of to hand wash all the salt off the boat. The ocean seems 10 times saltier than the bays and rivers and creeks. So she was one salty boat today.
BUT THEN THE WIND SHIFTS SOUTH
Near the end of this trip, the winds returned to the south and we were able to turn the motor off and set full sails once again. This was late in the day and the sun presented these great angles thru the rig as we sailed on.
We arrived OCEAN REEF YACHT CLUB
At 1900, about 30 minutes before sunset, we arrived at the Ocean Reef Yacht Club and docked for the night. Job #1, hook up a hose and wash off this SALT.
Thank you for sailing along
We will depart Ocean Reef Yacht Club in the morning for a direct run across the Gulfstream to the Lake Worth Inlet. Our next blog will share the beautiful yacht club here in Lucaya, Grand Bahama…