Gulf Stream Crossing & Starting the Bahamas: Dec 5 2006
We made our final provisioning runs to the gigantic Publix supermarket - split over two days; day one was food (we filled two shopping carts) and day two was soda and alcohol (beer and wine only - liquor was a previous run with the rental car). We moved Barefeet and "staged" closer to the Lake Worth Inlet in order to have a straighter shot when we departed, anchoring off of Peanut Island (11/30). On the way we fueled up and filled with water...including two each 5 gallon jugs of diesel and gas. We are ready...now for the anticipated weather window to materialize. We contemplated leaving at 3am 12/1 but 20-25 knot winds were more than we wanted and we went back to sleep. 12/2 we awoke at 1am and headed out under more favorable conditions. The sky was clear and the moon almost full...too bad the inlet was so sloppy - short waves 2-4 feet. Yuck...but just uncomfortable. The rocky seas continued and we needed both engines in full (but still had slow going at approx 4.5 knots). Luckily, as forecast, seas diminished and wind died as the day went on and everything just got better and better. The depth finder topped out at 499 ft depth - we had heard about this - that instruments stop reading depth more than 1000 feet...wow! We made it to the Gulf Stream (most evident from the water temp - max was 85.8 degrees F) and made a lovely sideways "S" path across (Chris is a fabulous navigator) in order to properly accommodate the Gulf Stream current (approx 3 knots). Reaching the Bahamas Banks was as amazing as everyone had told us (9am) - bright turquoise water and clear visibility straight to the ocean floor. We kept going past Mangrove Cay and anchored at Great Sale Cay (3:45pm). The yellow quarantine flag went up and we were swimming within 20 minutes of anchoring. A relaxing dinner followed of mozzarella, tomato & basil with olive oil and balsamic and cornbread twists.
12/3 we pulled up the anchor at Great Sale Cay and headed for Spanish Cay (pronounced key but I am still messing it up) in order to clear customs. It was a beautiful, clear morning and I made a frittata with the leftover salad from last night for breakfast while underway. The migration from Florida to the Bahamas was evident with several boats both ahead and behind us. The 12/2 weather window was the first one in nearly 5 weeks. Many cruisers were definitely feeling the itch to get across as we listened to the radio chatter. We arrived in Spanish Cay (1:40pm) and awaited our time with the customs agent. She came aboard, we completed paperwork and all went smoothly (we were her 16th boat that day) and we caught up with friends met in Myrtle Beach and later in Beaufort, SC. We lowered the yellow Q flag and raised the Bahamas courtesy flag. We are official!
We explored the island of Spanish Cay and reveled in the lack of visitors. It is a private island resort with golf carts for transportation. It seems this is low season - lucky us - but high season is a different story...two month waiting list for reservations and full every night. We made reservations for dinner (only one restaurant) when we checked into the dock. Reservations were not for seating but for food prep - we also ordered when we made the reservation; crab cakes, Mediterranean salad and sesame seared tuna with ginger and wasabi. It was delicious and everything was wonderfully fresh...oh, and a couple of rum drinks, too.
After a leisurely morning (12/4) with some web surfing and emails we made a short 2 hour hop to Manjack Cay (pronounced Munjack or Nunjack). It is a beautiful anchorage with good protection from the North (anticipated 20 knot winds tonight). We got into Trouble and went to the Northern shore to explore the beaches and a bit of the island. It feels wonderfully tropical and we cannot keep smiling from ear to ear - 85 degree F air, 80 degree F water and sand as soft as powdered sugar. There was not another soul around while we walked the nature trails to the other side of the island. The photos do not do justice to the clarity of the water...but it was an attempt. Depth was approx 5 feet and we saw the shadow of Trouble and an ambling ray...amazing! The ray has lost his tail...do they grow back like a lizard's tail grows back if it is lost?!
Back aboard we read, swam and continued to pinch ourselves that we are actually here. Tonight is grilled burgers with homemade burger buns by baker Chris and an avocado, cucumber and orange salad. But now we are off for sundowners on the deck!