On Thursday, March 12, we again arose early in order to hear Chris Parker’s forecast at 6:30 on the SSB. There were no significant changes in the weather over the weekend, so we still planned to cross back to the U.S. Saturday/Sunday. Four days remained in which we will not be in civilization, so today, after I checked both engines out, we boarded Dalí and headed into New Plymouth for a few provisions. On the return trip into White Sound, we were greeted by three dolphins heading south in the dredged channel as we headed north. It’s always wonderful to see these beautiful creatures.
We stayed to use wifi for an hour or so, and then pushed off from the dock at 10:30. We had a very pleasant trip northward through the Sea of Abaco to our overnight anchorage at Crab Cay at the northern tip of Great Abaco Island. We anchored here on our way into the Abacos three or four months ago. We had following winds and waves and made 6-7 knots motorsailing with one engine and a reef in the main. We, of course, placed the reef in the main because of the ripped out clew (which occurred on our passage from Eleuthera back to the Abacos last week). We now have the main set to the first reef. We won’t have to adjust it at this point. When we raise the main, it will stop at the first reef. This effectually makes the clew superfluous, as the pressure on the clew area of the sail is now on the first reefing line.
We arrived at our anchorage just after two in the afternoon. We dropped our anchor in about 8 feet of water and put out an 8:1 scope. There were only four other boats in this ample anchorage when we arrived (later on two more would pull in). I swam up to check the anchor to make sure it was set securely. It was buried deeper than I’ve ever seen it. The roll bar was barely visible above the sand. With the 25 knot winds expected overnight, it was nice to know we weren’t going to drag. We had a wonderful spaghetti dinner and watched a movie before retiring.
On Friday morning, the 13th (A lucky day, we hoped!), we awoke early to once again listen to Chris Parker’s weather information… and, still, no changes in our plans. So, at 7:15, we weighed anchor and headed westward across the Little Bahama Bank. Today’s destination: Great Sale Cay. We raised the main and unfurled the genoa and motorsailed using one engine again today. We averaged around 7 knots with following winds and waves. How pleasant it is when the waves are behind you and you are not beating into them! We could have made better speed and just sail without motoring, if it had not been for the wind angle. The wind was virtually coming from directly behind us. As it was, I had to gybe several times in order to keep the wind just off the stern to allow me to motorsail.
It was a good day on the water. The waves built to 2-4 ft. on the Little Bahama Bank, but since they were rolling in from behind it was quite comfortable. By the time we rounded the northernmost point of Great Sale Cay and made our way into our anchorage, the wind was blowing from the east at a steady 20+ knots with gusts up to 30. Around 1 p.m., we dropped our anchor in the well-protected anchorage in nine feet of water and placed out a 7.5:1 scope. I then jumped in and visually made sure our anchor was set. It was. We should be secure overnight with these winds, which will start to diminish after midnight. There were three other boats in this massive anchorage to keep us company overnight.
Once we had squared away Beatitude at her anchorage, I showered off the salt water and sat down at the helm station to enter our route into the chart plotter for tomorrow. It will be approximately 55 miles or so in a WNW direction until we clear the Little Bahama Bank. At that point, we will turn more toward a NNW direction and make a bee-line to Port Canaveral, another 100+ miles.