This was our 9th season in the Bahamas after spending the past 4 winters in the Caribbean. So, this was a review tour of the best places. The best part of the Exuams is between Shroud Cay and Rudder Cay. We focused on these places. Here was the planned route inbound, A direct run from Miami to No Name Harbor….No need to stop at Binini when the wx window is open. Run east as far as you can reach.
After checking in, we powered on east to Highbourne Cay, then south to Staniel Cay, and onto Black Point as well. After Black Point, we pushed down to Rudder Cay and swam the Piano. From there we turned around and sailed back to Black Point, Staniel then Compass and Cambridge, and Warderick Wells and Shroud. Here are the best photos of the past month. Enjoy.
Photo Essay of Sailing the Exuamas 2023 One month…
This was a very short Bahamas season for us, only a month. We usually are over here in Jan, Feb, Mar, and April, then we sail back to the coast May 1. This season we did not sail over until the second week of March! Still, it was well worth the effort and time, and the push east to reach the 200 nm it takes to reach the Exuma Chain of Islands. No place has better watercolor and better beaches. Hands down, the Bahamas are a dream.
We are sailing north to Freeport Bahamas where we will dock for one week at OCEAN REEF CLUB April 16-23. Then after that, we will sail for the Florida coast. This season we will store the boat May 15-Nov15 at Brunswick Landing so we can get an early start at the Caribbean. We want to spend Christmas in the USVI. One more Caribbean Season for us. That is the plan.
We are excited to share with you our recent sailing adventure from No Name Harbor near Miami to Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands.
We have a fleet of five boats!
We departed from No Name Harbor on March 7, 2023, at 7 a.m. We were eager to set sail on this exciting journey with IP 35 Just Ducky, IP 350 Traveller, IP 370 Sea Lyon and Fleming 55 Our Eden with former IP380 & 440 owners aboard. Our destination was Great Harbor Cay, in the Berrys, a group of islands in the northwestern Bahamas. We charted a course via North Rock, which is located north of Bimini. After passing North Rock at 2:45 a.m., we prepared ourselves for a night of motor-sailing on the Bahamas Banks which are only 10 feet deep.
Sunset brought Full Moon Rise!
As the sun began to set, we eagerly awaited the rise of the full moon on the Bahamas Banks. Finally, at 7 pm, we were greeted with a spectacular view of the full moon as it rose above the horizon to the east. The moon’s radiant glow illuminated the surrounding shallow waters and gave us an amazing view of the white sandy bottom. It provided us with awe-inspiring sights that we’ll never forget. The sound of the waves against the hull and the gentle rocking of the boat put us at ease as we motor-sailed through the night.
Digital Radar Approach at Night
At 3 am, we navigated the approach to the island and dropped anchor at last, feeling a sense of accomplishment and excitement for what lay ahead. The Berrys are known for their pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, and abundant marine life, and we couldn’t wait to explore Great Harbor Cay from the marina of the same name, renowned for its friendly staff and fun activities.
The Bahamas Waters are the BEST
In conclusion, our sailing journey to the Berrys was an incredible experience that we’ll always cherish. It was the calmest Gulf Stream Crossing we have ever experienced. From the stunning full moon rising on the Bahamas banks to the exhilaration of motor-sailing through the night, this adventure was one for the books. If you ever have the chance to sail in this beautiful part of the world, don’t hesitate – you won’t be disappointed!
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We never leave Florida and go to the Bahamas without first spending time sailing Biscayne Bay and enjoying “The Grove” and Miami Beach! I have said many times that Biscayne Bay is the second-best sailing and cruising area on the entire USA East coast after Block Island Sound which to us is #1. So, after departing Stuart Florida, our first destination is always Miami. Many people pass right on by this dream sailing area on their race for Marathon Key or Key West. We love boating around this area! Upon arrival at Government Cut we were met with a cruise ship heading out. But first our route…
Stuart to West Palm
We ran down the ICW inside on the waterway from Stuart to Peck Lake, to Hobe Sound to West Palm Beach where we always head south one bridge past the inlet and anchor between the bridges. West Palm Beach is a dream spot to anchor, except for the reversing current and some boat traffic. We spent a few days here and enjoyed the famous ROCCO TACOS.
Queue Up to Depart for Miami
We left the town and moved up to the Lake Worth inlet where we anchored just inside the inlet and to the south. This spot is perfect for heading out the inlet at 0500, which is zero-dark-hundred. Being anchored here makes it so much easier to simply get up, brew some coffee and up anchor and set your main sail to a double reefed main and go. This Lake Worth Inlet is short and very easy to navigate. This was a first-time run of the inlet for our buddy boat, 35 JUST DUCKY and it was simple. Still very nerve-racking when you have never done this, but it was a great day.
Before nightfall, Steve Job’s yacht motored on by with a route to the Bahamas as the weather was fantastic. We were planning a direct run to Miami where we could wait for the next weather window to cross on the FULL MOON on March 7th, 2023.
The OFFSHORE run to Miami
Heading out to sea at 0500 it is DARK, and there was no horizon except for the city lights to the shore to the west. That was comforting as we simply headed out the inlet and, at the 35-40 foot water depth past the jetty, we turned south and pointed towards south Florida. Within an hour and a half, 0630 the sun rose and we had a spectacular day of motor sailing down the coast.
Hello South Florida
By keeping the beach to starboard and staying close in the 30-40 foot or less water depth, we avoided a south-flowing counter current to the north-flowing Gulfstream and picked up 1/2 a knot of speed closer to shore.
Hello MIAMI Inlet, (Government Cut)
Arriving at the inlet we were early with the ebb tide coming out and the east winds blowing in so you know about wind against current. YUP, it was crazy rough going in. Then add to this the insane 50-60 foot sport fishing boats doing 30knots as they pass you on port then another on starboard and they hit your beam with their 4 foot waves, your boat is going midship cleat to midship cleat water to water. Plus all items below deck have now hit the cabin sole and your boat is trashed. Yup, welcome to Miami. Oh yes, add in a cruise ship and this is typical.
Fishermans Channel to the left
You are not allowed to enter the main channel due to the cruise ships, so you have to turn into Fishermans Channel to the south. This takes you by all the container ships and their cranes busy loading and offloading the containers. Look at the size of these ships!!!!
Biscayne Bay Fun #1 BOCA CHITA
With our first anchorage off Virginia Cay and watching the Miami City lights come on, it was a very peaceful night. After a few yacht services at Crandon and a tour of Dinner Key, it was off to Boca Chita for a night. Linda and Mahlon wanted to see this island, part of Key Biscayne National Park and the beautiful building that is NOT a lighthouse. It is a simulated lighthouse built by Honeywell because he could. Lucky for us a park ranger/tour guide was there and we all got to climb up the lighthouse and take a tour. We really enjoyed our time at Boca Chita.
Our hero sails by, Jeffrey and family
While we were running south for Boca Chita, our dear friend Jeffrey Cardenas and his family were sailing south to Key West on their new catamaran! So, we all decided to meet up at Boca Chita and enjoy a bottle of bubbly to celebrate their new yacht. We followed Jeffrey for the past few years as he solo circumnavigated the globe on his Island Packet 460 named FLYING FISH! We first met him in person a year ago in St. Croix. His blog is a fascinating and a wonderful read. Jeffry is the best of the best writers. Please see his worldwide stories here:
From here, we sailed back up to Dinner Key where we enjoyed “THE GROVE” and then…..oh yes….then we moved over to Miami Beach. Well, that is the subject of the next post update, as I try to catch up on this blog……
Meanwhile, please see my menu link for all the great places to explore in the Biscayne Bay area.
We have been here in Stuart Florida since Nov 14, 2022, and as we have always posted and said: “This is the BEST Place in the USA to winter your boat!” So here we have been here for nearly three months! We have no complaints.
What have we been doing?
That is a very good question, and the answer is, simply living on our boat in one of our favorite towns and upgrading and working on yacht systems. We had thought that all of the refit work we did this past summer in Rock Hall, MD, would have made our boat totally ready for her 5th winter in the Caribbean. Our destination was Bonaire this year, but with a busted KBW10 transmission, we lost a good month or more just with that issue
So, let’s work on da boat!
With the transmission ripped out and sent back to Schooner Bay Marina for Alfred Holzer to review why his repair in June failed, we decided to focus on what else we could rip out. Ha Ha. Well, that led us to…..why not the sewer hoses, as we have not ripped them out in 7-8 years. Oh, that sounds like fun, yea, let’s take the Dremel tool and cut the sewer hoses out. Well, we did, and it took us 6-8 hours, one day only and we had all new sewer hoses and a new head. Now that was a quick turnaround.
Well that was fun, what next?
Once the head and sewer were rebuilt and all brand new we decided to look into the water heater which was rusty and leaking. Nothing lasts in the saltwater, salty air of the yachting world. This water heater was installed in 2013 by the Island Packet factory when we gave them our yacht to explore the brilliant idea of creating the Island Packet Yacht Refit program. Well, after 6 months and a full refit yacht, the IPY factory said, NO THANKS, and shortly thereafter they went out of business. Next, I present the idea of the IPY Refit program to Colin Mack, and being a smart businessman, he decided to go after the work. Today, 2023, I bought my new water heater from Colin because he has now built the ULTIMATE Island Packet Yacht service company. Every Island Packet Owner can no benefit from his work. www.MackYachtServices.com
So, with a newly delivered water heater, we went after that job and now we have a new system there:
With the transmission still not back, and with it getting lost in the mega snowstorm over Christmas, I decided to take Colin Mack up on his new upgraded deck hardware. YUP, we bought all new deck hardware and removed our old 1994 blocks, and installed all new MYS blocks which are made by Garhaurar Marine custom for Mack Yacht Services. This Island Packet Yachts Refit program really seems to be a great idea I outlined back in 2013. Colin was smart enough to take it up when the IPY factory said no. Great job Colin! Check out these new custom blocks.
Who wants White sails? I do!
Again, since we were not going anywhere, we dropped the jib and the staysail and sent them over to Mack Sails for upgraded WHITE sun covers. I really do not like the color on the sails, we had blue for many years. I prefer white sun covers, so we had them changed up to white. I know, the white will not last as long as the blue, but I like white sails and so now we are back to all white. Thank you Travis.
We test sail the transmission!
Well, the transmission was found lost in a trucking center in Michigan, and it finally made it back to us at the end of December. It took me 3 hours to reinstall the transmission. I then hired Simply Yachts #1 mechanic Chris, to do an engine alignment, and off we went for a test sail. On Jan 1, Team Island Spirit was back on the launch pad ready to make her run for the Caribbean Sea…
Wait, did I tell you about the welded lifelines?
While waiting for the transmission in Nov Dec, we decided to hire the most creative and artistic metal fabricator and welder in the Stuart area. Alexander and his team replaced our top and bottom lifelines around the cockpit with custom hull-matching curved solid stainless steel bars. WOW, I never expected these to be curved to match the hull shape, and he said if they are straight, they do not look as good. Well, he is right. These curved hull matching bars are a work of art, and he is very proud of his work. We are thrilled and we love the added safety of these bars around the cockpit. Look at this work!
Did someone say STARLINK?
Well ok then, let’s add StarLink satellite high-speed internet to the boat. Elon Muck and his company SpaceX have been launching 2 rockets a week with 55 satellites on each launch for a long time now. He has placed these Starlink low earth orbit satellites to provide internet around the world. Well, guess what? It really works and it works very well. It is not cheap, as the antenna and router cost $700 and the mobile RV service is $135/month. The RV version allows you to relocate and move to a new location. Reports are that this works down the island and nearly everywhere, so we will give it a test run this March and April. We installed this into a standard fishing rod holder and clamped that onto the bimini frame. The power consumption is about 4 amps 12v, but it runs on 120-volt AC, so we have to run the inverter to power the outlets.
So, here we are….on the launch pad
With all systems upgraded yet again, and with some new systems, we are once again on the launch pad and will be heading out soon. We always like to move to Miami and sail Biscayne Bay testing all systems. There we will also fire up the Spectra watermaker and get that system running before sailing over to the Exumas. We plan to simply sail the Exumas this remaining season and then for a new process, we will store the yacht in-water at Brunswick Landing Marina, May 15-Nov 15. When we return we will set sail ASAP and as fast as we can to return to our Caribbean challenge. For now, Sunset Bay Marina is a dream stop.
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