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Sumner 25-05-2015 12:39

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...
Chinook wrote:Hi Sum, You're making great progress. Your description of weather conditions confirms that you've had to deal with far rougher conditions than we experienced while down there. Just a few frontal systems hit us, and they were well mannered and past right by without excessively lingering. We don't get stalled fronts here in the NW, but back east they can really mess things up. ..., Mike
The weather has been something. Another day of strong winds now. I'm going to try and leave here (Fox Town) on Thursdays. Winds are suppose to be 16 gusting higher but dropping as the day goes on. I'm hoping that it won't be too bad that night out on Little Bahama Bank and the next day I can make either West End of Memory Rock. Saturday looks like the day to try a crossing as the prediction is 15 dropping to 10 and 2'-3' seas. Sunday might be ok but then Monday it starts all over again. I guess there is a system in the Caribbean that no one quite knows what it is going to do but wind speeds are suppose to rise again from Sunday on.
Chinook wrote:Hi Sum, You're making great progress............ I'll be extremely interested in learning about your crossing of the Bight of Abaco, since I'm hoping to make that passage next March or April. Any info on waypoints, depths, anchorages, and entrance and exit points will be most appreciated... Mike
To tell you the truth the Bight of Abaco was kind of anti-climatic. I think it has our imaginations up since not many boats do it. The night I got to Hard Bargain on the southern side there were two big (over 40 foot) cats there and they left going north over the Bight the next morning. I left the following morning and never saw them again. Sailed off anchor and right away had a small squall brush by off to port. Winds went up some, not bad, and it rained pretty hard for a few minutes. The squall sucked the air out of the winds and when I saw another approach off to starboard I was almost glad to get some wind back. It hit harder and the main tried to jibe over but having a preventer on (always have them on the boom when running) prevented that and I soon got things back under control More wind with this one but just a touch of rain. It moved off to the NE. Winds were non-typical being out of the SSW as they were clocking as the onset of the next weather system. This was Thursday and I wanted to be on the north side of Little Abaco by Saturday afternoon when the next wave of east winds hit.

I had planned on a few days in the Blight but with the next system coming it I decided to anchor up at Basin Harbor Cay.

I didn't sail directly there as I wanted to check out Joe Downer Cays in case I got back this way. I sailed by them but didn't go into the small bay there, and it is small. They didn't do much for me and I'd have no real desire to go back to them. I had also thought about going by Norman's Castle which was a lumber camp back in the 20'-30's. According to the guide book not much there and that looked to be the case using the binoculars so didn't detour all the way over there.

I got to Hard Basin Cay and dropped the sails just off the Cay as by now the wind had picked up and there were a lot of waves going in the narrow cut to the inner harbor. Once in I first motored off to the SE side but a lot of surge with the waves running in right out of the SW and then went to the N side and the same problem and it shallowed pretty quickly (kicked the rudder). This would be a very nice place in normal east winds and very pretty with the high bluffs guarding the entrance. There is a house in there but looked deserted.

I made a retreat and cavitated the outboard a number of times trying to get back out the cut and couldn't wait to get the sails back up since the boat is so much more stable with them up. A few hundred yards past the entrance I did that and then sailed around the NW tip of the Cay and anchored in a small bay there. It proved to be a little too small as I got in close to shore and dropped the anchor but by the time I let the rode out I was back to the mouth of the bay and in some surge there. Still not as bad as the other bay.

That night I tried something different. I know from your trip report that you are familial with the surge over there at times where the wind has the boat cocked one way and the reflected surge comes in a different way and rocks the boat hard side to side. You try and sleep and it feels like someone is yanking the bed out from under you one way and then the other. I got to thinking that wind the waves and wind are on the bow I sleep like a baby as it is lifting me up and down over the length of my body. So what would happen if I slept from side to side in the boat? I put two oars from the dinghy inside the cabin from the settee on the port side to the one on the starboard side and put the settee cushions, turned around, on top of them. I slept that way for the night and it was much better. I'm going to make a shelf like piece that will span the two settee's in a situation like that and sleep in the cabin. Now when the boat rocks side to side it is lifting me up and down along the length of my body.

Part 2 of across the Bight of Abaco to follow...


MidwestRefugee 25-05-2015 13:47

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...
My first (and so far only) real cruise was back in 2000 in my MacGregor 26X. I so hope to go back again soon.
Your trip sounds awesome. I just hope I can do the same when I get to the same place.
Please, continue your story.

catshopper 25-05-2015 15:52

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...
Hey old man,

I'm 69 and will be headed that way this winter. Gotta go, gotta go.

I did not read your blog yet. Where did you clear out of U.S.?

Any problems?


Sumner 25-05-2015 16:08

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...

Originally Posted by catshopper (Post 1833440)
Hey old man,

I'm 69 and will be headed that way this winter. Gotta go, gotta go.

I did not read your blog yet. Where did you clear out of U.S.?

Any problems?


I enrolled in the...

Small Vessel Reporting System

... and submitted a float plan and then went out Anglefish Cut by north Key Largo. I'll call when I go back in and should be good to go,


Weyalan 25-05-2015 19:07

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...
Great stories. Fantastic to read about your adventures. Just goes to show you are never to old to have fun. Good luck and fair winds to you.

Sumner 26-05-2015 11:08

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...
Part two of across the Bight of Abaco

The next morning I sailed off anchor (starting to get better at this sailing deal) and headed west across the upper part of the Bight of Abaco towards Spence Rock where I would exit the Bight. Winds were still enough SW that I couldn't make a run straight to Spence Rock so had to tack to the north of it which meant a tack south later. As I headed west though the winds started to diminish and started clocking to the south more and as they did I kept bringing the boat around but still had to make one tack back down to the SE, but not a long one and then was off to Spence Rock again.

The tiller-pilot has a feature where if you push two buttons on it at the same time it will bring the boat about for you about 100 deg. So your can handle the sails. I hadn't had much luck as the boat wouldn't come about fast enough and would stall in the irons and then I'd have to go about losing ground doing that. One problem with the auto-tiller is that it has limited movement so doesn't put the tiller over very far. I decided to try it without the auto-tiller and put it on standby and lifted it off the tiller and swung the tiller all the way over by hand like one normally does, released the main and I'd already pulled the Genoa in so that it was less than a 100 Jib.. I back winded the Genoa and the boat came right about. I've done it since in very light air with the boat moving barely over 1 kt and still had good results, so no more using the auto-tiller to come about.

As I moved towards Spence Rock the winds really died and passing it and going north I was under 2 kts running now. I was tempted to fire up the outboard but I still had a lot of daylight and I could now see coral formations under the boat as I was in the first shallow water of the Bight crossing. All the water before this was over 10-12 feet and more. Saw some rays for a while and slowly and I mean slowly made my way north to go out the cut between Cave Cay and Cashs Cay. I saw some 5' to 6' water there for a couple hundred yards but that was the shallowest of the whole crossing and this cut, the only one on the north side, is the reason bigger boats don't use the cut.

When I left Harbor Basin and looked back I saw a power yacht anchored north of the next cay to the north but didn't see another boat the whole crossing. Right a Spence Rock I saw 3-4 small boats with single outboards going from I guess Fox Town down in the direction of Grand Bahama Island or coming from it at high rates of speed.

I wanted to sail onto anchor at Cave Cay and managed after two attempts. There are rocks everywhere there and I didn't know how far I could get in towards two very small beaches there. My first pass I tacked back towards where I wanted to go too soon so had to tack out and then back around for another attempt and ran closer to shore before tacking parallel to it in the direction of the two beaches. Problem there was the shore blocked almost all of the light wind I had and I was making less than 1 kt. Just enough to keep some steerage and couldn't use the auto-tiller as it could handle the very light conditions. As I approached the beaches I found rocks coming out of the water just before them so anchored just off the rocks. It took about 3 hours to make it from Spence Rock to when I dropped anchor a distance of only about 6 miles but it was worth it. Since I had sailed off anchor at Hard Bargain on the south side of the Bight I'd only fired the outboard up to try going into the bay at Harbor Basin and back out again, about 15 minutes. Since leaving Black Point in the Exumas I'd traveled right at 300 miles to Cave Cay and only ran the outboard for 5-8 of those. I was really liking the silence!!

The next day though I couldn't get into Fox Town without running it for the last 8 miles into there, but I tried real hard.

So the Bight was a lot of water. All of it plenty deep and not that much to see. I'd use the passage again but only as a passage and spend my time in places that are more scenic. I'll have more pictures up on my trip report later for this part of the trip,


powsmias 26-05-2015 12:53

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...
you must be miserable... have a blast. nice read.

Sumner 27-05-2015 10:57

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...
Change of plans. Not going to leave here until Friday getting to West End Sat and crossing Sunday. This system is moving slower than they said a day or so ago.

Highest sustained winds I've had on the trip other than a couple squalls but they didn't go on for hours/days. They were suppose to be around 20 today but I swear they have been 25-30 all day. Lots of long rows of foam even in here.

Tomorrow wind going across towards West End is still suppose to be 15-20 with 3'-5' seas. That would not be comfortable with this boat. Fri. 10-15 and 3'-4'.

Sunday crossing around 10 with 3'-4' seas about a foot less than Saturday. I could probably cross ok on Saturday but it is getting from here to West End by then that is the problem.

All of the above is subject to change. It is NOAA info and Chris is close to it and so is Passagemaker.

Timing with the tide at St. Lucie will be better Sunday also and they are predicting 3'-4 foot seas there also so that will be important.



Sumner 28-05-2015 10:58

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...
Sitting here waiting on weather at Fox Town on Little Abaco has given me a chance to work on the trip blog on my site and finish some more pages there. I thought I'd put up a few teaser photos from the blog in case you aren't following that and only this but if you like the pictures there are a lot more there and a lot of other info, probably too much .

So I think the last ones I posted going north from Georgetown were the mermaid/piano at Rudder Cut so working north of there...

One of the structures on Moosha Cay which is next to Rudder and also owned by David Copperfield and where people stay.

Little Harbor at Little Farmer Cay.

Ocean Cabin restaurant at Little Farmer Cay

link to Little Farmer...

One of a couple supply ships that came in at Little Harbor and anchored off and people went to it in their boats.

North shore of Little Farmer by airstrip and ....

.... a sunset there.

Link to Little Farmer stay waiting on weather.... ... ge-17.html

A boat on the beach on the way to Black Point. The whole area had been hit with a squall with 45-55 kt winds a couple days before and not sure if that was what caused this or not? I don't remember seeing it on my way south earlier.

Town dock at Black Point. One of the few places it is convenient to get water and dispose of trash.

Laundry at Black Point with its own dinghy dock.

Link to Black Point.... ... ge-18.html

One of two reefs that are easy to swim on at Fowl Cay. The one above is right at the entrance to one of the two grotto's there that you can..

... swim into.

This was a great stop.

Link to Fowl...

More later or go to the trip index and see many more pictures of the above places and later dates...


Rainh2o2 28-05-2015 17:21

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...
This is a great story ! Inspiring. I wish you ask the best of luck!

Sent from my SM-T320 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app

Sumner 30-05-2015 16:19

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...
Got into West End about 1 1/2 hours ago (7 pm now). Was able to sail all the way here (103 miles) except the first mile leaving from Fox Town (chickened out with all the little rock islands there) and the 1/2 mile into the very exposed anchorage here but thankfully wind is down. I'll go to bed in a minute and up after 1 am and off for Port St. Lucie. I'd like to get there just after slack at the beginning of flood tide between 4-5 pm tomorrow. I'll sail as much as possible but need to be on that time table so I'm sure I'll be running the outboard some.

I've gotten kind of anal now about sailing. Low winds today running so 10 hours to here and just a little over 20 miles today. It was at least peaceful running like that.


Paul54 31-05-2015 05:40

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...
Good luck on your crossing.

Cap Erict3 31-05-2015 13:20

An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...

Originally Posted by Sumner (Post 1837252)

I've gotten kind of anal now about sailing. Low winds today running so 10 hours to here and just a little over 20 miles today. It was at least peaceful running like that.


I know the feeling. I have a few friends who follow my Spot that are amazed that I will sail in a 3-4 knot breeze happy as a clam.

Not much breaks at those speeds.

Looking for another pretty place to work on the boat.

Sumner 01-06-2015 06:53

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...
Got in last night, Port St. Lucie north of Miami, about 8:30 after leaving at 1 in the morning. Long 18 hour day and 6 miles out of here my rudder bracket broke and had to get towed in here. It could of happened earlier in the day and I might then of been floating on the Gulf Stream towards England. Not exactly how I envisioned going there. Just kidding if it would of broke out there I still could of gotten to help with the radio and gotten towed in but that would of been a long slow tow and for sure I was glad it didn't happen in the Bahamas. I'll repair it when I get home and make it better than factory. I think I jinxed myself as earlier in the day I wrote that I wouldn't make this trip without a second rudder aboard but as it was the rudder is fine just not useable at the moment as it is on 1/2 the bracket that attaches to the post and bent up at 60 deg. and at the water line.

I was thinking of coming in the last bit with the outboard for steering but the boat clocked around with the port side to the wind and substantial waves and the dingy was trapped on that side with the lines wrapped around the rudder and outboard. I tried for about 30 minutes to get all that mess straightened out but lost the boat hook in that ordeal, almost went overboard and finally said "I've paid for tow insurance for 6 years so why not use it" and called TowBoat U.S.. Captain Scott was there in 30 minutes and in all of this time I had floated in about a mile towards shore. He hooked on and I found out that it is hard to tow a sailboat that doesn't have a functioning rudder. I tried to help a bit with the outboard as once he got there I got the dinghy straightened out and the rudder tied up out of the way and the outboard down. I was putting too much pressure on the outboard tiller trying to help so abandoned that and he got me into Manatee Pocket just past the ICW and I'm on anchor here until tomorrow.

Scott, my friend at the boat yard, is going to come over tomorrow with the Suburban and the trailer and I'll use the outboard to motor down about 1/2 mile to a public boat ramp and meet him there.

Then back to the yard and get things ready to head back to Utah, so the ICW going north is going to have to wait. I have a followup dr. appointment on the 15 to check out the pacemaker and will see if I can get that moved up otherwise head west on the 16th probably sleeping in the boat on the 2200 mile 4 day trip home.

So the trip didn't exactly end how I had planned it but other than that is was a great trip and will remember all of that and put the last couple hours in another compartment. Anyone planning a trip like this with a small boat needs to remember we are pushing them past the limits they were designed for and consider the possible consequences both to the boat and ourselves. I'd hate to know that this trip encouraged someone else to make a similar one and they weren't prepared for the potential danger inherit to it. I realized that going in and accepted it.

I'll continue the trip blog with pictures and such on my web site as time permits and will come back and post when there are updates to it here.


P.S. All told the trip from the boatyard on Florida's west coast to the Bahamas and back was 1294 miles and just 4 days short of 3 months and between Black Point in the Exumas to West End (Grand Bahama) was 403 miles and I sailed all of that except for about 10 miles either motoring or motor-sailing and sailed about another 100+ miles before that stretch so feel real good about that.

onestepcsy37 01-06-2015 12:16

Re: An old man takes a small boat to the Bahamas...
Congratulations. Great story for us and a great adventure for you.

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