Saturday, December 6, 2014

Last Minute Sail

We Left Great Harbour Cay the day after Thanksgiving. I had a slight post-Thanksgiving hangover thanks to our friend Wes on S/V Sea Angel. (S/V Sea Angel is part of a volunteer program bringing medical supplies to remote islands in the pacific. Captain Dave, Wes and Sally are working to deliver the catamaran to Tonga were medical volunteers will arrive. A very cool program for anyone interested in donating their medical experience to a great cause.)

As I was not 100%, we were planning to beat into the north wind and head around the the east side of Great Harbour Cay for the night. The forecast called for 20-25, gusting to 30 with 4-6 ft seas. Once faced with the decision to beat into the wind for an hour or embark south with the wind behind us for 8 hours we chose to head South. I am not sure if that was the best choice. For the first 4 hours we were tossed around like a cork in a washing machine. Waves breaking on our quarter with the jib out and a single reefed main. Then we crossed to the Northwest Providence Channel with the wind directly behind and the motion of the ocean (and my seasickness) became more bearable. Then we turned upwind toward Chub Cay on a close reach for the last 3 hours. After an hour of me at the helm and Dan easing the main out for gusts we realized it was time for a second reef. Even with Dan tethered in it was too rough, wet, and dark for him to stay up on the cabin top wrestling with lines. We hove to for the first time, on purpose, in heavy conditions. It was great. The seas seemed to calm with the wheel turned all the way to windward and the jib backed. We were still being pushed 2.5 kts but Dan was able to crawl on the cabin top to pull in our second reef line. With a double-reefed main and our yankee jib out, we made reasonable time, averaging about 5.5 kts to our anchorage off of Chub Key. Few sailors get a chance to practice reefing their main or heaving to. By the time these actions become necessary the conditions are often perceived as too unsafe to try something new. Everything worked well for us and we arrived at anchorage around 2300 feeling proud and exhausted. It was a good reminder of all the other worst-case-scenarios we need to practice; changing out to the storm jib underway, man overboard exercises and our evacuation plan should the worst occur.

First GoPro shot!
 Sarah at the beach anchorage. Everyone was rolling on the windy days. After a day of being uncomfortable we got as close to the beach as we could so that the spit of land in the background blocked the swell wrapping around it. We were miserable enough with the rolling that I was considering beaching Sarah, luckily 5.5 ft of depth solved the problem. 
 The deserted resort Marina. Tater tot is tied up in a slip big enough for a 70 ft yacht.
Most of the resort was empty, and basically overrun with the few cruisers out in the anchorage. The Bahamians didn't seem to mind. 

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