Time to head out to the Bahamas! We left the docks in Fort Pierce about 4:30pm and headed out the inlet. Once we got past the breakers, which I’ll admit, was a bit rough at first, we continued to head as far south as we could before we hit the Gulf Stream. Thankfully, I took my motion sickness medicine long enough before that I didn’t feel nauseous this time which was awesome. Although I was still a bit uncomfortable with the swell. As it headed into the evening, with the sun going down, it started to calm down more and more as the trip went on. When we were hoisting the sails, using the winch handle, Richard accidentally punched through our dodger window (which already had been taped and cracked a couple of times…), so now I think it was due for a full refit once we get to the Bahamas.
We had been sailing the entire way up until mid stream crossing where we started the engine to make enough Easting to get through it without being pulled too far north. We continued to sail above the Grand Bahama island and over to the North side of the Abacos islands where we turned in and anchored near Manjack Cay (pronounced “key”) for a few hours to get some sleep. We had traveled about 38 or so hours, getting in about 3am. We then woke up and sailed a few more miles down to Green Turtle Cay where we anchored just outside the harbors. We hoisted the yellow Quarantine flag, signaling that we have just arrived and needed to clear customs.
We caught a dinghy ride ashore with the other boat we were travelling with. It was a bit choppy to be rowing our own dinghy in. We walked around and found the customs office, filled out our paperwork, got our passports stamped, and with fishing license in hand we were on our way. $150 and we were cleared for 3 months in the Bahamas. We can apply for another 3 months if we choose, we’d just have to go back into customs prior to the initial 90 days expiration.
Once we were cleared, we found a little grocery store for snacks and scored a snorkel mask for fairly cheap. We hadn’t bought any snorkel gear prior to leaving because we just hadn’t gotten to it yet, but figured we’ll pick up what we can along the way. Same with the dinghy motor… Well, anyways, we then got back to the boats and sailed away towards Hatchet Bay for protection from an upcoming storm. It was supposed to be good holding for our anchor as well. The first morning we woke up there were jellyfish everywhere around our boat, although hard to get a great picture of, here’s a small snapshot of them floating around our dinghy.
While in Hatchet Bay, we walked around town, and eventually found the beach…after passing the burning piles of trash. Because they don’t have any other way to get rid of trash on the island, they just burn it. The beach was pretty nice, we combed for some pieces of sea glass and enjoyed just watching the waves roll in. We came upon another boat, Mambo, who joined the happy hour on Moon Shadow that night where we were toasting our successful first blue water passage. Shanti, the third boat we travelled with, also joined us for the evening. In talking to Mambo, we came to find out that they actually had a backup motor, which would be the ideal size for our dinghy. We tried it out for a couple days and ended up buying it off of them which was lucky for us. We now didn’t have to row all the way across harbors to get into the town! Except for when we don’t put enough gas in it, and we get called over to a nearby boat who helped us out. We got some more gas and were on our way again.
Michelle, Dianna from Moon Shadow, and Colleen from Mambo enjoying the morning on the beach.
Richard and Donny trying to crack open some coconuts to eat on the boat.
We had one of the lines in our lazy jacks on the main sail unhook during the crossing, and Donny came over to help me hoist Richard up the mast to get the line that was hanging to clip them back together again.
Then after a couple days, the storm rolled through, and we hunkered down inside the boat while the rain poured down outside. We got through a lot of Seinfeld and a couple movies too. But the anchors held, and we didn’t move aside from swaying back and forth. The town had a little bar, called “Da Spot” where we enjoyed some drinks and wifi one afternoon after another morning at the beach. We had a few dinghy rides using our new motor to fill up our jerry jugs of water to bring back to fill the boats water tanks. 5 gallons at a time. After the storm passed, we continued on South to Govenor’s Harbor, still in Eluthera.
While there we restocked some groceries, rum, and hit the bakery for some coconut cinnamon bread. As well as another jerry jug of water. Every trip. The next day we visited the Levy Preserve which is one of the Bahamas National Parks. It was a couple mile walk from where we docked our dinghy’s, but it was a really nice park to visit. There were mangroves with water that looked like tea because of the coloring in the roots. There were hikes past various medicinal plants native to the Bahamas, as well as an edible garden displaying the history of how food was introduced into the islands. And at the back of the property, which was about 20 acres, there was a tower you could climb to view atop the entire canopy of the park. It was worth the visit, and the hike to get there. Afterwards, we found a restaurant named Tippy’s for lunch. It was a bit over budget for a lunch (~$18/meal and $14 for a Goombay Smash drink) but it was really delicious. Plus the view of the ocean and beach was amazing from the outdoor seating. It was our first Goombay Smash drink, which is one of the common Bahamian drinks, and delicious. After finishing, we headed to the beach and walked back a ways before cutting to the road again. We quickly hitch hiked a ride and jumped in the back of the pickup truck so we didn’t have to walk all the way back to town in the afternoon heat.
That evening, a boat next to us in the anchorage, Fregata, asked us to visit for a movie night. We made some popcorn and headed over to watch Captain Ron, which we’d never seen before, but is heavily quoted in the sailing community. We then chatted awhile, and spoke about how we got started in our adventure and got to the Bahamas with no dinghy motor, no snorkeling gear, and are just going with the flow. We did joke how we have one snorkel mask we had bought in the souveniour shop to share between us which we laughed about. And low and behold, he had 2 full snorkel gear sets, one large and one medium, which he just gave us! We seriously couldn’t believe it. We have seriously been meeting such nice, giving, people in our travels. Everyone in the community is there to just help each other out.
After another day of catching up on some laundry ($15 for 2 loads!!) and getting another couple jugs of water and gasoline for the dinghy, we were ready to be on our way again. While Richard was off doing the laundry, I was sitting in the cafe trying to catch up on the Florida blog post getting it ready to publish.
We left Governor’s Harbor Saturday morning and hoped we would make it to the Exuma Land and Sea Park in Wardrick Wells by dark. We needed to keep a speed of at least 5 knots in order to do that, which initially didn’t seem to be an issue. Crusing the coast of Eluthera, we were keeping a steady 5-6 knots, until we turned around the cape of Eluthera. Then the wind was dead on our nose and we could barely go over 3 knots. Not good for our initial plan. So we started tacking back and forth, trying to get some speed and cover some ground. We were hopeful to still pick up a mooring ball in the park, but when we got close enough to reach them on the radio, they said everything was booked. So, we had to find somewhere to anchor for the night. Which we still didn’t make it to the Exuma’s until after dark anyways, and had to anchor off the coast of a small cay and pray we didn’t get close to any coral heads. We found a place on the chart and GPS and dropped hook in about 25′ of water and called it a night. It had been a long day of tacking and beating into the wind; it was not a very calm sail, bumping up and down with the swell. And that night wasn’t a very calm anchorage either, so getting much sleep didn’t happen either. In the morning, we hoped to grab a mooring ball once people started to leave, but hearing on the radio, it didn’t seem there was any hope. So many people called immediately when the park opened at 9am checking reservations and requesting moorings. So what we had hoped for a quick 6 mile sail then turned into another full day, heading to Staniel Cay. Another day of not great wind, swell, and getting beat up all day. By this point, I had enough sailing for awhile. At least going into the wind. I was ready to get off the boat and be on land and not be moving. I was also ready for a good nights sleep. Thankfully, we made it to the Staniel Cay anchorage before sunset, and went into the beach with Moon Shadow, and enjoyed happy hour together that evening.
Thanks for reading! As always, let me know if you’d like to hear more about anything!