After 3 months of sailing around many islands and cays in the Bahamas, it was decidedly time to head “home.” Or at least head back to the US, and figure out where our next home might be. Just because we were nearing the end of our initial cruising permit, we would have been allowed to renew it for up to another 3 months. After travelling back North, I decided that we should stay with our buddy boat, Moon Shadow, and head back to the US. Personally, I was ready to get off the boat and have a break from living aboard. We had been living aboard Runa at this time for about 5 months. The initial goal was to try it for 6 months and see what we wanted to do and go from there. I think we got pretty close to this goal, and I decided that life on the water just isn’t for me, although if it were up to Richard, he’d still be living aboard in the islands somewhere. Albiet outside of the hurricane zones.
We had fun celebrating Connie’s last night and the arrival of new guests on Moon Shadow as we took advantage of the dancing at the Saturday night rake and scrape.
After our friend Connie had left us, flying home to Utah, we were prepping to make the crossing back to the US. After reviewing weather patterns and forecasts, looking at charts, and discussing with our buddy boat, Moon Shadow, we were set to leave Monday, head from Marsh Harbour, toward Green Turtle Cay where we initially checked into the Bahamas. We saw some little kitties all lined up along a fence where someone set out food.
I guess one of them was looking for a special handout…he must know something the others don’t…
From there, we continued onto Great Sale Cay. This would be our jumping off point from the Bahamas towards the US. It was the most beautiful day of sailing when we were leaving the Bahamas. Probably the best wind and weather we had the entire time we’d been sailing. It was downwind the entire first say of our potentially 4 day-3 night journey. Our initial plan was to head straight from the Bahamas to North Carolina and ride the Gulf Stream up the coast of the US. I of course don’t have any pictures of this glorious day sailing, we were both just taking in the last bit of clear water. It was kind of a bittersweet sail, officially saying goodbye to the Bahamas.
Well, while we were having a gorgeous day sailing towards Great Sale Cay, the first night wasn’t so bad. Just the sailing in the darkness is always somewhat eerie. The next day was not so fabulous. It was grey skies, somewhat blowy, and with being more in the open ocean, the water color wasn’t the pretty turquoise color we had gotten spoiled with. It was now the dark blue of the deep waters.
Heading into that evening, there was a bit of a storm front heading off the coast of Florida that we were keeping an eye on. Literally, you could see the clouds ahead, just dark, nasty looking things. Well, you can plan a route and hope for the best, but after a day or so out at sea, forecasts can change. And sadly, it changed for the worse. Ahead of us about 3-5 miles, Moon Shadow radioed us to “batten down the hatches, and hold on!” And that’s exactly what we did…and we waited…and we waited…literally just bobbing along, barely any wind in our sails. Moving along about 1-2 knots.
Well, did that change in literally an instant! We soon headed into the edges of the storm, and we started quoting Captain Ron “It’s just a squall, they come on ya fast, and they leave ya fast.” Unfortunately, this one did not leave so fast. We had a steady 35 knot wind into the middle of the night! Hatch boards were in, harnesses were on, and we literally were holding on for what didn’t just seem hours…it really was hours. We were in all our foul weather gear, but when you’re getting waves tossed into the cockpit one after another, waterproof pants and jackets don’t seem to do much help. EVERYTHING was soaked.
Meanwhile Runa was just in her element. I might have been scared shitless, but she kept on plunging into the waves like a pro. Thankfully with the guidance from Moon Shadow, we trimmed in the sails to where our jib was about the size of a handkerchief, and our main was double-battened. It felt like forever that I was literally just sitting on the floor of the cockpit (not the seats, because I didn’t want to get tossed out of the cockpit) tied to the boat with my tether and harness and life-jacket, while Richard, also tethered, amazingly kept our boat on course because the strength of the wind was too much to be using auto-pilot. Runa, totally showcased the Caliber 33, and how great a boat it is. I was never really afraid that the boat would break up into pieces or have any major issues being in that strong of wind, for that length of time. I say I was scared, and I was, but being in that situation, you just have to keep going. There’s no way out, other than to keep plunging forward and get through the storm. This was obviously not what we had planned on, but after our last few months sailing, I was confident in Richard being the Captain and getting us through it.
It was after the storm passed, that we had radio discussions with Moon Shadow, and we all agreed to change course and head towards St. Augustine, FL instead of NC. The weather patterns from the storm, and the new forecast, didn’t make it reasonable to go to NC directly. We didn’t have enough fuel to keep up with the speeds of Moon Shadow, and we were all exhausted.
We arrived into St. Augustine that Thursday evening. The weather didn’t look very good, and we planned to stay on a mooring ball at the St. Augustine Municipal Marina for 2 nights and go from there.
That’s the catching up of how we made it back to the US! It has been a busy busy summer. It’s amazing once we got back how crazy busy our lives became. I will try to do more detailed blogs of the rest of our adventures soon!
Thanks for reading!