Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nassau or Bust

Nassau or bust....quite literally
I thought a northeast wind would be an advantage crossing the gulfstream, guess again. Five to ten knots of wind working together with the gulfstream to drive us to the north was quite an unexpected challenge. I tried following my GPS at first, but I couldn't figure out how to coordinate what my eyes were telling me with what the GPS was saying. When I headed 100 degrees by the compass my "course over ground", on the GPS, was 30 degrees??? I tried to bring my "course over ground" to 90 degrees and my compass read 160 degrees??? I looked up at the land and I was definitely facing south? My GPS is broken I told Marie. Wait a minute that doesn't make sense? By the way I was moving at 1.2 knots! Yeah this was to be a record crossing. I think a piece of driftwood passed was going in the right direction. After a confusing 2 hours it dawned on me that all my instruments were right and what I was experiencing was simply not enough wind conspiring together with the gulfstream to drive me crazy! After studying my predicament I concluded to set the most beneficial course, note I didn't say set a course where I wanted to go, but the most beneficial course. This new course gave me some speed and an acceptable course a bit further north than I would have liked. I figured that after I got passed the gulfstream, no drought too far to the north, I would then head south and reestablished my original plan.

Great Isaac Lighthouse
We went passed Great Issac Light at about noon, not in the program, on our way over the Bahama Bank towards the Northern Channel. The wind picked up quite a bit and now we were healed over hard, making good speed towards the Tongue of the ocean. Then Marie stepped out at about 2 am and said "that's way too fast, slow it down". Well I had been up for over 30 hours by now so I asked her to take the wheel while I took in the Genoa and she took the wheel so that I could get some sleep.
When I woke up the sun was up and took the wheel and continued pass the northern channel towards Nassau. Marie and I were both tired from a harder than average crossing. Marie noticed an island to our north and asked me what it was. "That's Chub Cay", I said, "wanna go there for some rest?" She agreed so I turned the wheel and we were at Chub Cay in a couple of hours.

Eva caught a starfish

Enjoying a sunset off of Chun Cay

The marina at Chub Cay. Quite a place to have all to yourself.

The club pool.

The ocean makes a great backdrop for the pool at Chub Cay

The cabana bar, half of the seats are in the water.

One of the unfinished homes at Chub Cay

The anchorage at Chub Cay was not so good, It was really exposed to anything but an east wind. We found out from a  local fisherman that it was going to get rough, a cold front was going to come through. I dropped 2 anchors and monitored the GPS for any dragging at regular intervals through out the night. It blew briskly, but the anchors didn't budge. The same old fisherman came by again and said it was going to blow harder tonight. I needed more wind like Custer needed more Indians. Well that was more energy and confidence than I had to spare. I called the Chub Cay Marina and asked if that had  had room for a 41 foot sailboat. Happily they said yes, and so we headed in for a good nights sleep.
Boy was it weired to find that we were the only boat in the marina. It was such a beautiful place, world class, but no one around? It felt like the after mass of a zombie invasion.
In all truth, what it was is sad. It was sad to see someone's dreams shattered so close to fruition, a sight too familiar these days. It was clear that this project, like so many others fell to a weak economy, but hay that's why I'm sailing today.
The staff at the marina could not be nicer. They offer to open the restaurant for us if we want to have dinner. I didn't take the offer. The kids had a beautiful "infinity edge" pool all to themselves.

A quaint street at Chub Cay Village

I received an email from my employer asking me to fly to Honduras in 5 days. I would need to get to Nassau to catch a flight out, but the weather was even worse. There was a small craft advisory in effect, but we decided to go anyway. It's only bout 35 miles from Chub to Nassau, how bad could it be? Well...let me try to explain this brilliant idea of mine. The winds were from the northeast, the current was from the southwest, I needed to head southeast. We were sandwiched between the current and the waves. I'd like to know who measures the waves for the weather report, this person is very conservative in his work! we pounded and then pounded some more. Slowly every item on the boat made its way out of its place and on to the floor. It was a mass exodus. The iron Genny has behaved like a champ although we have a bit of a scare about halfway though this crossing. For no apparent reason the rpm's would drop about 200 revolutions and then go back up after a minute or so. I thought for sure that I had a fuel issue. Oh great, I thought, what a nice place to do a filter change. In my usual form, I decided to try and get by until I had no choice or until I reached a marina, surrounded by nice calm water. After about 5 of these rpm episodes Marie comes out of the boat and tells me that her coffee maker had fallen over and was turning itself on and off  with each wave, pulling so much power from the alternator that it would drop the engines rpms. That was it, that the cause of our motor problems. Score one for procrastination.
We have a "Capehorn" self-steering wind vane that I recently installed on the Mirador. On I have to be honest with you, even as this contraption came together I hadn't a clear idea of how it was going to work. This is not a common thing for me to say. I just assembled it as instructed and let my doubts ride with a "we'll see". Well, I'd like to report that the Capehorn wind vane is amazing! I set wind the wind vane just as we cleared the channel out of Chub Cay, according to a beeline course on my GPS, straight to Nassau. Now this wind vane has steered us all the way to Nassau as if it were somehow linked to our GPS. I think it would have steered us into Nassau Harbor if I had the nerve allow it. Why are these not on the back of more boats?
We would be getting into Nassau late at night. I didn't want to pay Atlantis marina rates for an overnight stay so we decided we'd anchor in the harbor and take a slip at marina the next morning.
Not enough can be said for the feeling of pulling into a harbor after passage.


  1. Great stuff, keep it up!
    Jorge and Made aboard Calypso Cat pier six.
    Viento en popa y a toda vela...