Long Island, the Bahamas

February 24-26, 2021

We sailed south from the northern tip of Long Island today, with winds on the nose at 15-20 knots.  Add the boat speed, and it feels like 25 knots of wind pummeling you in the face as you sit at the helm.  Stick your head out the car window at 30 MPH to approximate this feeling.  Now leave your head out there for 6-8 hours.  It’s tiring.  Roll down the enclosure you say?  We just can’t.  It’s 80 degrees, brilliantly sunny, and the water oscillates between cobalt and sapphire.  I just can’t condone putting a plastic window between us and that. As long as we are sailing, we might as well have a fishing line in the water, right?  That is Jeff’s philosophy and today it payed off with some excitement, if not dinner.  We caught a good size Barracuda that put up enough fight to convince us we had something serious on the line.  While Barracuda are rumored to be quite tasty, they can also carry the ciguatera toxin so we threw this one back after snapping a few photos.

When sailing up wind, we may heel over 15-20 degrees, so we know we’re sailing, but the boat is so steady, you may not realize how big the waves are.  I was reminded of this when we turned up into the wind to bring in the sails in front of Clarence Town.  There was a 200+ foot mega yacht anchored right in the channel, so we did this while still outside of the protected harbor.   The bow of the boat was going up and down through a 20 foot period.  Drama! But really no problem.  We got the sails in and motored into a nice calm bay.  There were only 3 other boats in the huge harbor, and the mega yacht upped anchor as soon as we put ours down.  Was it something we said?

The next day, we loaded our SCUBA gear into the dinghy and headed 3 miles north to Dean’s Blue Hole, a 600+ deep hole in the earth, right off a beach here.  It’s the second deepest blue hole in the world, and in May or June, they hold a very famous free diving competition here.  We were excited to dive in it, but when we arrived, we saw waves breaking on a reef protecting the beach where we wanted to land, so we slowed down.  Fluffy was feeling frisky in the waves though, and by the time we realized these waves were BIG from the side with the curl, we had just scraped bottom.  Loosing the outboard in 5 foot breakers would not be fun, so Jeff spun us and headed out of there, but the waves had another idea.  We were knocked back and slowed down by 3 waves that broke on top of us.  Each time I saw a waterfall coming down the brim of my hat.  When we finally cleared the breaker line I was delighted to see that in spite of all this, Fluffy was not swamped and we will live another day.  We made ourselves busy bailing, and aborted the diving mission.  I guess we are still learning and we felt dumb not having anticipated this situation.  All’s well that ends well.   Instead we went to the beach.  Jeff harvested and cleaned his first coconut from a tree.  Is a coconut not very exciting?  Good.  I wanted a bit of boredom after Fluffy tried to kill us in the surf.

That afternoon we went in to shore to walk on solid ground and visit Erica’s bakery.  It’s the orange building on a hill and she makes banana bread to die for, and some very nice Cowboy Cookies.  Yum.  Hiking further up to a church, we met a pair of English cruisers from the boat anchored next to us who had come up from the Ragged Islands in the south.  We had a nice conversation, and they joined as at the marina restaurant for drinks after lunch to swap stories and recommendations.  The Lighthouse Point Restaurant served AMAZING fresh fish sandwiches.  Jeff devoured a Mahi Mahi sandwich, and I inhaled a Wahoo sandwich.  Ahhh.

The next morning we raised anchor and headed east to the Acklins because there is another big blow coming and it was leave now or stay three more days.  The wind ramped up early and we had to beat up wind in 20-25 knots for 9.5 hours, to make 40 miles of headway.  We were going 7 knots on average, but on a zig zagging path.  It was another tiring sail, but it was enlivened by two sets of delightful visitors.  First we had two very curious Brown Boobies.  We had never seen them before, so had to look them up in the bird book.  They are very curious, they fly in great swooping gliding arcs, and they don’t mind landing in the water to bob around and poke their heads under the waves.    

Later, Jeff called me to the high side to see what he thought could be dolphin.  As soon as I poked my head up, they blew big plumes of spray to announce they are whales not dolphin and we could clearly see the two grey bodies through the clear water, swimming slowly side by side, about 100 feet off our beam.  We were going in the same direction, but they were only going half of our 7-8 knots of speed.  It was very cool, but while they were ahead of us, I really worried.  Did they know we were here?  What if they suddenly turned right?  We wouldn’t have wanted a boat that size to go by so closely without announcing there intentions….  I live in a scarier world than Jeff does.  He told me not to worry and just enjoy our first whale sighting as cruisers.

At the end of the day we rolled the sails in and motored to make the anchorage off Crooked Island with just 2 minutes to spare before sunset.  We started going faster and faster as we motored into the East wind, as the island broke the waves.  They went from 4-6 feet to 6 inches by the time we got to without 1,000 feet of the beach.  I love a nice anchorage in the lee!  We plan to stay here for the weekend (we arrived Thursday night), to ride out easterly winds over 25 knots.