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Old 26-05-2009, 16:33   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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Little Harbour Cay, Berries to Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island March 16-18 2009

Little Harbour Cay, Berries to Lucaya, Grand Bahama Island March 16-18 2009

We left you at breakfast in the anchorage between Little Harbour and Cabbage Cays in the Berries. As we always do, we timed our departure taking not only the tide, but also our expected arrival time, into consideration. We planned to leave in the mid-afternoon based on the forecasted wind shift and the expectation that we’d arrive at Lucaya after dawn.

Because we were at a relatively high tide, but would not be leaving for some time, we took advantage of the extra depth to move around behind Cabbage Cay shortly before lunch. Our exit, assisted by the confidence gained by my going out in the dinghy with the handheld depth finder, was much less nerve-wracking than our entrance! Once in the Cabbage Cay anchorage, we found that the other boat which had been there when we arrived was gone, so we had an easier time of finding a secure anchoring point. As well, the wind was nearly the opposite of our arrival wind, so we were not in danger of blowing into the shallow area.

As I always try to accomplish my boat 1-2-3’s (the little chores you do to keep ahead of the maintenance), one of these for the day included sewing the zipper on our aging MackPack sail cover. This was a continuous spiral nylon zipper, and the stitching which held the nylon part to the tape which was attached to the cover had aged enough that some of the end near the topping lift had failed.

The nylon "string" of zipper was therefore unattached to the supporting cloth tape, making zipping and unzipping more challenging, as well as having the risk of deforming the zipper, as the spiral would stretch if not held by the stitching. Given our experience with the zippers for our windows in the cockpit enclosure, which has seen one after the other of them fail, this became a priority for us. Digging out my trusty sail needle (small, of course, for this task) and our UV resistant thread, I laboriously resewed the two feet or so on one side, and about a foot on the other, which had failed.

When we get to a place that’s convenient (presumed to be our shoreside residence for a while, Saint Simons Island, where we’ll go to take advantage of the hospitality of two of our angels while Lydia plays Gramma and we give her mother a ride to the plane), we’ll take the cover off and restitch the entire length of the zipper. If part of the stitching has failed, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of it does! Like every other boat chore, this took longer than expected, as I had to deal with a stiff breeze and, as well, look under the zipper each time to make sure it was coming out in the right place. Once we’re ashore, using the SailRite sewing machine on manual crank will make that chore relatively simple. Once we have the machine’s feed interval dialed in, we may even be able to use it on slow feed with the motor.

Of course, the wind was in exactly the wrong spot to leave, and no sooner had I finished the sewing, about the time the shift to our advantage had been forecast, it died, nearly entirely. As we have no enthusiasm for running the engine, we thought for a time we’d not leave at all. Our planned departure had been for about 5PM, but there was little to no wind, with what there was in the wrong place. However, some clouds appeared, and, right on schedule as forecasted by Chris Parker, the wind did nearly a 180-degree shift, and eventually picked up substantially. Forecast conditions were for 050 at 18 knots, with 5’ seas. As we were heading north, that would put the seas on our beam, but with the wind stiffening us on nearly a beam reach, it would be a smooth ride. All right! Anchors up!!

We sailed off the anchorage at 7:15 and motorsailed through the headwind out the entrance. We’d put in a single reef due to the winds and the night sail, but due to our point of sail (the wind hadn’t clocked as far as expected), we were unhappily running the engine until we cleared the Berries due to what turned into headwinds. We continued motorsailing on a very close beat, about 20* apparent wind, in a rock-and-roll accompanied by pitching fashion for about 3 hours in what (happily) turned out to be a dry ride, if not a bit like a roller coaster :{))

For reasons I’ve yet to figure, the Cap’n, our electronic charting program that we’ve been using in this area to help give a much closer look at the terrain under us, crapped out on us before we left the Berries. Fortunately, our other program, MaxSea, had good detail charts for this area, so I just switched over. One of my shoreside 1-2-3’s is to load our many charts such that MaxSea can read them. There’s some proprietary modus they use, and most charts won’t come up regularly on MaxSea without a transformation process, so we have only some of our inventory loaded in readable format. Getting them in a recognizable format is a tedious chore, but, at least, it CAN be done so that’s high on my "to do" list, particularly since we find MaxSea to be a bit more user-friendly than the Cap’n.

By the end of the Berries, where we were able to make our turn for Lucaya, we were on a beam to close reach by midnight. Our shift from nearly head-into the wind, a very close beat, to this, made the seas much more comfortable. Not long after we cleared the Berries, I saw three fairly closely spaced boats in the distance, but it appeared that we’d clear them comfortably.

One of them hailed me to say that he had me in sight, and would give me a 2-mile berth on his pass. Shortly, however, he called me back and said that the next boat in line was a bit nervous about how close he was, so he was going to divert to port. That would take us on a very close track, and he asked if I’d mind falling off a bit to allow him to have comfortable clearance, even though, due to our position and also as a sailboat, we were the stand-on vessel. No problem, as we were in open water, and he passed about ¼ mile in front of us. The other power boat passed, on a reciprocal course (going directly the other way) close to starboard but well off any potential collision, and the last, a cruise ship, was far off in the distance by the time we came anywhere near his prior position.

One of the small pleasures we have in the middle of the night is chatting up other cruisers, and this was no exception. We’ve got an ongoing problem with our radar, determined, due to recent conversations with the manufacturer, to be a misinstallation by one of their factory-authorized dealers. That misinstallation has been frustrating for a very long time, and had at least something to do with why we wrecked, what seems a very long time ago. (Long-time followers will recall that Flying Pig was successfully salvaged from the rock shelf off Content Key, and rehabbed, which is how we are where we are today.) Thus, I was not able to track these on radar, but it also means that we just keep a sharp lookout at all times, and chat up any other boat which may impinge our path as a matter of course.

We made comfortable progress toward Lucaya, but at about 5AM the wind shifted again, to nearly on our nose, making for a very uncomfortable ride. After Lydia had been thrown around in the bunk for a while, we hove to at 7:30 to let her get some sleep. By 9:30AM, the wind again made a change. This time it was totally fluky, and despite trying to tack, we finally gave up and motored the rest of the way to Lucaya with the main only, for stiffness, at 10 degrees of apparent wind. Earlier, I’d called one of the marinas and we were told that the controlling depth at low tide for the entrance was only 6’ – and low tide was about when we thought we’d be arriving. Thus, the delay induced by heaving-to allowed us to gain some more depth, as well, not only due to the delay but also because our track on heaving-to led us nearly directly away from our entrance. We arrived at 11AM, nervously negotiating the narrows as we came in, but we never saw less than 8’ – perhaps the local knowledge was incorrect?

Once inside the harbor, we made preparations to anchor in one of the locations shown in the Explorer charts as an anchorage. However, it was too close to a marina, and we were somewhat chased off (well, not somewhat) by one of the marina-owned boats. Another fellow cruiser had heard our calls and suggested we anchor right next to him, further down the canal. When we saw how close the quarters were there, and knowing that the wind was supposed to shift, as well as pick up substantially, later in the day, we elected not to take him up on it.

Instead we wandered around looking for other likely places, finally choosing the area immediately to the left as you enter the harbor. Unfortunately, that’s an area of cable crossings, so we moved on, still wandering in the wilderness, so to speak :{))

After two passes of the length of both ends of the canals, no likely anchorage presented itself, all of them being much too tightly bound for our comfort, particularly with the very soft mud bottom making me nervous about our anchoring security. Eventually, at 2:30, we tied up at one of the many unused, unoccupied, and looking abandoned, areas in front of a trashed lot. We then went to chat up some folks working on a boat across the way and learned that the massive poles we’d tied to were used only in hurricane expectation by the guy who owned the huge schooner we’d seen on a couple of our passes. Since he was out of town, the locals were quite certain that we could stay there overnight, as others had been there in the past, sometimes for weeks!

Accordingly, now settled, we got out the dinghy and headed to shore, enjoying a dinner at one of the local eateries ashore. Lucaya has many shops and restaurants in the local area, all very enticing, so we made plans to return the following day. Our spot was about 10 minutes by dinghy from the town’s dinghy dock, located in a marina.

The next day we lazed around until nearly noon, but went ashore to explore. The local cat met us at the gate, and solicited and received much attention, but we reluctantly left her. As always, you meet the most amazing folks while you’re cruising; this time it was the vendor of collapsible hats/vases/bowls, or whatever else you may care to make of them. I’ll leave his story for you to enjoy when you’re there, but it’s very entertaining and touching :{))

Dinner ashore again, courtesy of Lydia’s Mom, and ice cream on the way out had us stuffed, again threatening our diet. Despite eating like horses, all of us have lost weight in our time in the Bahamas – Louise thinks 30#, and Lydia and I lesser, more gradual, losses. All of our pants are falling down!

An early evening, with a movie, capped off our lovely day. The next day, Lydia and Louise wanted to do some shop exploration from some they’d seen on the way in, so, after our usual leisurely morning routine, we headed to shore again. Much window shopping, and jewelry making ideas later, we returned to Flying Pig to make ready to leave in the evening. Our weather forecaster had said this would be the best time, but some of our recent acquaintances thought it would be best to head up to West End to depart the following day, thinking they’d get that small jump on their own crossings, to Fort Pierce and Savannah, respectively.

We’ll leave you here as we raise the dinghy and make shipshape for our departure…

Stay Tuned!


Skip and crew

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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