April 28 – May 3, 2021
We had another easy sail around Great Abacos to the Sea of Abacos on the east side. We motored for 5 or 6 miles into the south wind to get around the southern tip, and then peaceful, easy downwind sailing to Marsh Harbour. Downwind sailing is great, because you don’t feel the same amount of wind as you do upwind. Essential, you subtract out the boat speed. Sailing in 15 knots, we were going about 7 knots, so only felt about 8-10 knots of wind. Upwind, it would have felt like more than twenty.
We enjoyed being in protected Marsh Harbour, and they have paved (mostly) roads, so we got out the bikes for the first time in the Bahamas. We made a nice tour around, but it was really sad to see how most of the islands infrastructure had been blasted away, 18 months ago, by Hurricane Dorian. On the other had, they had the best grocery store we’ve seen since Palm Beach, so we made two trips to stock up for the trip back to the US. Across the Sea of Abaco just 5 miles or so, of Man-O-War Cay. The shipwrights on Man-O-War have been famous for their unique Bahamian hulls since the 1800s. The trade has been passed down in one or two main families on the island. We took a huge long walk along the beaches and into town, along the docks, and got a great look at the work in progress. Very cool.
Our next stop was Green Turtle Cay. I wanted to relive my birthday dinner from when we took Renegade across in March of 2018. Green Turtle seems to have bounced back much faster than Marsh Harbour. We talked to some locals, and they attribute it to foreign money being pumped into the recovery. The Canadian we met working hard to restore his 4MM villa to it’s former glory seemed to be anecdotal evidence to support the theory. We had a beautiful sunset dinner on the screened in patio. I am reminded that Camus stains my teeth purple every time. Why don’t wines I like less do that? There. I’ve done a whole blog where nothing stressful happens. This got me thinking. There are a lot of armchair sailors out there, watching sailing on YouTube. This is not the way to get the feeling for the full glory of ocean sailing. Do you get seasick? Never mind, you can have to true thrill of ocean sailing, and stay on dry land. All you need is an old car you don’t like very much, a big empty parking lot, a skate board ramp and a firehose. You also need a friend to work the firehose.
Imagine an oval course, like a race track, positioning the skate board ramp at the beginning of the straight away. Position your friend somewhere after the ramp with the hose. Begin circling your course, and get the car up to 30-40 mph, with the windows open. This is what 25-30 knots of wind feels like. Now, go up the skate ramp with your starboard (right side) tires, so that you cause that side of the car to launch into the air, at a 20-25 degree angle to the ground. This is what heeling feels like when sailing hard on the wind. Your whole vehicle leans to one side, and suddenly, there is a high side (starboard in this case) and a low side, where you sit, because it’s too tiring to climb up and hold yourself up on the high side. (think of how unreasonable climbing into the passenger seat seems at this moment). This is where your friend comes in. You will see immediately, that a low side, per se, must be much closer to the water. Burying the rail is not just a euphemism. It means the top edge of the hull of your boat goes under water. Hence, the fire hose. Your friend blasts you with water through your open window each time you go by. Alas, it is not salty water, but it is likely cold, so I’ll call that close enough for horseshoes, hand grenades, and sailing. This, my friends, is a sport.
Ok, I jest. On the other hand, that’s what it’s really like, but thank goodness not on every sail. I clearly am still struggling with my long acknowledged “crisis addiction”.