May 6-13, 2021
Grand Harbour was just as friendly and convenient for checking out as we remembered. The customs agents came to us at the local bar. We went to the bakery for local banana bread too. Yum.
We check out on Friday the 7th, with a plan to leave the next day, because they wind is still from the direction we need to go. That works because we have to get everything buttoned down for the passage. We even put the dinghy on the foredeck, which involves stowing away the dorades, and using ratchet straps to tie her down. The foredeck is often washed by waves at sea, and we don’t need Fluffy going AWOL in rough conditions. Our wine locker is seriously depleted, so I spend some time with my head in the bilge, making sure our remaining bottles can’t rattle around and cause trouble. I made Stroganoff for night watch, and Jeff fixed the water maker and the head, which had been acting up. Love him.
Saturday is sunny and blue, but the wind is still not great. By 10:45, we got impatient, and spend an hour and a half motoring to get out the cut and do some fishing. We got a lot of bites, but the only fish we landed was a huge barracuda. Beautiful and sparkly in the Bahamian sunshine, but possibly toxic to eat, so Jeff let’s him go and he swims off to terrify unsuspecting snorkelers or something.
We spend Jeff’s Birthday and Mother’s Day (same day) at sea, not seeing much of each other because of our 3 hours watch changes, which are tiring, but we are at sea, doing what we love, so no big parties needed.
We are trying to stay ahead of weather, so we need to go fast. That means we motor-sail some of the time because the wind is dead behind us, our slowest point of sail. With the gulf stream to help us, we went 450 miles in just 51 hours. Unfortunately, the north winds were coming, so we didn’t make it around Hatteras before we had to duck into Cape Fear for safety. I am so glad we did. We arrived here in Cape Fear on Monday afternoon, and that evening the wind came up. We’ve had 20-25 knots ever since, with a 6 hour period of over 30, up to 37 knots. Yikes. Tuesday morning at high tide, we started to drag anchor. Yay. We upped anchor (well, I stayed in the enclosure, manning the helm, so Jeff upped anchor). It was cold (67 degrees) and windy, so not fun, but we like our new position more, so fine. All good. So Wednesday, we are alert at high tide. Fine in the AM, but at 9:30PM, second high tide of the day, we see our gps track swinging back and forth like a pendulum, each semi circle just a few feet further from our anchor. Oh goody. It’s blowing 25 knots, raining, and 58 degrees. We both take a moment to regret our expulsion from the garden of eden. Then it’s on deck in the pitch black. We have spreader lights, so I can just make out Jeff’s hand signals on the foredeck. He can’t get the anchor up unless I power forward to take wind pressure off the chain (it’s that strong), but if I motor over the chain it scrapes the hull, rips out of the windlass backwards, and likely wraps around the keel, because boats…. Anyway, it’s a precise little two step dance we do. Also, the bowthruster, which I use to keep us nose to wind, was only working half the time. It wasn’t broken, it was just up in the air from the waves. It only works if there is water for it to push against! We get the Delta anchor up, I motor up 500 or so feet to where we started dragging, and Jeff drops the trusty Fortress anchor that we assembled in the cockpit, and he carried up to the bow. (What a guy. That thing is a sharp and awkward 55 pounds or so. The boat was pitching around like a drunk bronco.) It all went smoothly, and the Fortress bit like a champ. Drag once, we’re stubborn and we repeat the same experiment with the same conditions expecting different results. Drag twice, and we’re suddenly geniuses. I think we were properly motivated because we didn’t want to demonstrate our skills a third time at 3AM. We were so psyched, and surprised it all went so smoothly, we actually fist bumped when Jeff got back to the cockpit.
Today is now Thursday, and we have our fingers crossed that this evil North wind will finally let us leave on Saturday. Forecast is still iffy. Cape Hatteras is the most serious passage on the east coast, so we respect it and will wait for the right weather, even if it’s frustrating. We’ve been Netflixing, baking, playing guitar, reading, eating, and spending more time than you’d think possible looking at our anchor track in our anchor alarm program. I really hope the Fortress holds because high tide is almost an hour later tonight, and if it’s going to give up, that’s when it will happen!