[Now that we can post remotely, the flood gates are open, expect up to the
minute updates! (No, not really.)]
After our fun in the Bight of Acklins (summarized by Sabrina in the previous
post below,) we planned to head straight back to Georgetown on an overnight
sail. The boat was getting low on fresh water, and there was no place to
replenish in the Bight. We had been watching the weather and knew that there
were fairly heavy winds on their way to the Bahamas. So, we planned a Friday
departure that would have enough wind for good sailing, but should get us to
Georgetown before the waves had time to build.
It was roughly 120 nautical miles from our anchorage at Long Cay to
Georgetown, at 6 knots that should take 20 hours (pretty simple math, eh?)
We didn’t want to have to motor if the winds dropped and we weren’t able to
make 6 knots, so I decided we’d leave about 11:00 a.m. and if we made 6
knots we’d arrive in Georgetown after sunrise. I figured we might average
less running downwind in the light winds, so we’d probably be entering
Georgetown in the middle of the day with the sun high overhead.
Unfortunately, when we heard the weather Friday morning, the heavy winds
were moving into the area faster than expected. Feeling the need to stretch
our sea legs a bit and knowing we didn’t have enough water to wait several
days until the blow was over, we prepared for this offshore run. We
“battened down the hatches” – carefully stowing everything, checking and
double checking our wind and wave forecast, packing the “ditch bag,” and,
while I cleared the deck, Sabrina prepared meals ahead of time for the trip.
So, with everything secured and our plan in place, we departed late in the
morning from Long Cay bound for Georgetown with a southeast wind pushing us
downwind past Long Island.
On Friday. The 13th….
Later that afternoon as we cleared the lee of Long Cay and passed Clarence
Town on Long Island, a few things became evident:
1. The wind was higher than predicted.
2. The waves were building faster than I thought.
3. We were going a lot faster than 6 knots.
We reefed a few times, but kept the speed high because I reasoned that once
we cleared Cape Santa Maria on Long Island we could duck into the lee of
Long Island and alter course further downwind. In landlubber’s terms, I
didn’t want to dawdle in the open Atlantic, we could reduce speed once we
were in calmer waters.
At dark we rolled in the rest of the reefed genoa and further reefed the
main down to the radar mount, yet we were still making over 6 knots. The
winds were averaging around 20 knots with gusts to 30, luckily we were on a
broad reach and not heading into it. The waves were only 4-6 feet with an
occasional 8 footer, but they were very steep and hitting us at a 3 to 4
second period on the beam. The wind was blowing the tops off the waves and
covering the boat with spray. Before midnight we saw a large storm building
over Long Island, but I was able to verify on the radar that luckily it was
moving away from us. We cleared Cape Santa Maria about 2:00 a.m. and the
waves did subside somewhat, we then sailed dead downwind to Georgetown at
about 4 knots under that tiny piece of mainsail. We hit Georgetown just a
little too early, I would have liked some more light in the rough
conditions, but we made it in and got the anchor down off of Sand Dollar
Beach. We arrived safe, exhausted and covered in salt.
Although it wasn’t exactly what we expected, we were prepared and it wasn’t
too bad. To put it in perspective, we still were able to make coffee. When
it’s too rough to make coffee, then things get miserable. Especially on