March 10-12: We had only a one day weather window to cross from Ft. Lauderdale to West End, Grand Bahama Island which is why we pushed so hard down the ICW to get to Ft. Lauderdale. It may seem strange to go so far south in order to go NE, but it’s all about the Gulf Stream which carries you north. You want to take advantage of this. So, on March 10, at 3:15 am we left the slip to head to the Bahamas. Winds from the East would be on the nose, so no sails up. The forecast had predicted winds and seas decreasing through the night and into Saturday but increasing again on Sunday. This was our only chance to cross.
This time the weather forecasters got it right. By first nautical dawn, the seas had calmed
and we had an easy crossing under power. This is unusual for the Gulf Stream where seas usually pick up. We actually got very little northern push for the Gulf Stream but even then, 11 hours later we were in Old Bahamas Bay Marina. While this was our 3rd day of intense boating, it was a very different experience from the ICW, mostly a long day with a short night of sleep. It would have been great to sail, but calm seas and light wind is the best you can expect since the prevailing winds most anytime of year are from the East.
We haven’t been on Grand Bahama Island for years. The original Jack Tar hotel burned and for some time there was nothing here. Now there is a lovely marina with a straight- forward well-marked channel, customs, fuel, well maintained docks, restaurant and bar and a beautiful beach on the north-east side. Unfortunately, it has been too windy and cool to enjoy the water. ( a note: we have to fly the yellow quarantine flag until we clear customs and immigrations, then it is replaced by Bahamian flag and flown from the starboard shoud as a courtesy to our host country.)
We have enjoyed the bar and restaurant with local Bahamian food of peas and rice, coldslaw and cracked conch or fish. There is very little variety in the diet here and it does get old by the time we leave the islands, but it’s a real treat when we first get here. It is just so Bahamian!
It was good to get in, have dinner out and hit the bunk. We both slept very well. Sunday, Ed changed the engine oil and I caught up on some boat chores, but mostly we enjoyed a different pace exploring this small resort.
The winds and seas had picked up while we’ve been here, but are calming down and tomorrow (Tuesday) we will head out for the Abacos. This means an overnight anchorage at either Sale or Mangrove Cay and on the next day. I will buy some lobster from the local diver this evening (he appears at the dock late each afternoon) and this will be our dinner at anchor Tuesday night. Ed will spend most of today setting up the navigation for this route. We most likely will take the shorter route past Indian Cay, but it is a bit tricky and he wants to be completely comfortable with this passage before we leave. I may take the bus into West End, the village here to buy milk and any fresh vegetables I can find.
It feels really good to be here. We were unable to cross last November and this has been our goal. Wherever else we go will be just more fun on the water.
From the seas and shores of the Bahamas,
Jan and Ed