Thats what cruising is right? Just doing boat work in exotic, tropical, gorgeous places. Its not about vacationing, relaxing, beaching or having fun (unless you find boat work fun, but then you would be crazy!).
After being at uncomfortable anchorages for almost 2 weeks, Jake and I were itching for a reprieve. Our weather window was short, so we had to make the most of it and get a move on. We planned to sail from White Cay anchorage to Rose Island, just a few miles east of Nassau.
It was early to start for the crew. Apparently everyone in the anchorage had the same idea, because all of us were motoring out of the channel by 6:30AM and raising sails soon thereafter. Everyone else was heading east towards Spanish Wells, but Jake and I split from the pack early on to head mostly south. The winds were pretty solid at 18 knots and the waves would vary from 3-5 sometimes 6 feet. Sailing was really great despite the bigger winds and waves. Both Jake and I took turns at the helm. We sailed with 2 reefs in the main and only about 25% of our jib extended and we were still moving about 5.5 knots.
It was strange sailing so far today – we went 45 miles in total, sailing 40 of them. As we neared the shore, we had to start the engine to navigate through the narrow slit in rock outcroppings (this is a common theme in the islands). It was kind of tough with big seas and complete exposure from the direction we were heading, but as soon as we crossed the “breakers” it was dead flat on the other side.
Rose Island was only another mile around the corner, and we ended up dropping anchor just shy of the entrance to the anchorage, as there were already 3 other boats there (and it was a pretty tight spot to begin with). We read that this anchorage can get rolly if there is any East component of wind (which there was) but we didn’t care. We figured we’d had enough rolly to be used to it, and knowing we only had to endure it one more day made it easy to swallow.
Once settled in, the rain came. Good timing! It was completely protected at our anchorage from the wind and waves so that was nice. The only downfall was the swell, that gradually grew out of the east, but again, we weren’t overly concerned by it. That night we got on the internet (finally have a decent signal) to double check the weather, and verify our marina reservations. We emailed the marina several days ago to make sure we could get a spot (good thing because all marinas were filling up fast with bad weather coming in). After an easy dinner, we went to bed early in hopes that the night would pass quickly.
Thursday, Jan 14, 2016
Well, so much for a good night of sleep. Even though we were totally sheltered from wind and waves, there was a big swell rolling all night. Not the worst we’ve had but enough to keep me conscious for much of the night. Oh well. I really didn’t care other than making it to the marina safely and soundly. It was the first morning we woke up to rain – a thick, heavy rain (not just the light squalls that are very common). The clouds were thick too – not very normal for here even on a cloudy or rainy day.
It was a cranky start to the day for sure. We spent the first hour of morning getting Bosco prepped for docking (which is always a battle of stress in itself) since you have no idea what to expect. As we pulled anchor, we hoped the weather would improve. Visibility was so-so – good enough to get where we were going. We only had to go 6 miles from our anchorage but as soon as we cleared the island, the waves were upon us.
Seriously? What is with this crappy sea state? Its like the universe finds a way to add mountains from molehills. Or maybe its just our crap luck? Either way, the sea was doing some funky things. If you looked at it, it didn’t seem too bad – small waves probably less than 2 feet. But there was an opposing swell that was somehow making our boat rock violently back and forth and back and forth. I couldn’t go the direction I wanted without the boat going crazy, so I went slightly more east than south. We also raised a tiny sliver of jib hoping that would help balance things out (It did ever so slightly). I slowed down the motoring, so that maybe we could ride with the waves, which also helped just a little bit – not much.
It was a short distance so I did my best to keep the boat at the most comfortable position possible before sucking it up and dealing with the big lurches until we neared the channel. Once that happened, things got serious again.
I was really tense about this channel entrance – apparently there are NO breakers until you are pretty much inside the marina entrance, and this channel isn’t marked well on maps (at all). It looks like I’m just headed to shallows with coral on both sides. The entrance was so rocky and it was so narrow I thought we might have to bail on it altogether. Jake told me to keep going that it was okay. So I kept going (inside i was bubbling with fear and anxiety). My heart was racing. Ever so slightly the waves chilled out as we got closer. Once I got Bosco through the first channel markers, it got better – and then better the further I went (it wasn’t far from the 1st marker only maybe 0.1 miles).
The marina employee got on the radio as we neared, telling us he could see our boat “dancing” out in the channel – he was super encouraging and told us don’t worry we are almost there! I couldn’t wait anymore! I wanted to be there and done with this for awhile. Once we entered the marina entrance, all weather and wind and waves and current dropped off completely. It was like all the elements turned off at once. Such a weird feeling – and now I felt a sense of relief. Though it was short lived because we still had to dock the boat.
On the radio, the dock master said our boat would be at the end, well what does that mean? The end could be anywhere in this place. So I motored really slowly hoping that we could see him someplace – turned out we went passed the “end” and had to do a 360 and then a U-turn passed several larger docked boats. It was NOT easy to say the least, but I only slightly bumped a piling before turning into our slip. I don’t know how we’re going to get out of this slip when we leave, but I’m hoping the boat neighbors will be gone by then so its less risk of crashing them. But honestly I didn’t care about that. Once we pulled in the slip and slowed Bosco (still had to deal w/ dock lines), I was ready to be done – and so happy.
We got in pretty early. The dock master welcomed us to the marina, told us to take our time and some of the things to note about the place – its only about 3 years old and is more of a resort than a marina. They have an onsight cafe (coffeeshop / sandwiches) and a restaurant as well as a gorgeous private beach area, pool, wifi, courtesy car, showers, laundry and absolutely gorgeous grounds. The entire marina is under lock and key 24-hours a day – always security and its VERY safe. I don’t think we could have asked for a nicer place.
Boat Work in Exotic Places
January 15 – 24, 2016
Some people say that cruising is just doing boat work in exotic or tropical places. And in this case, we have found that statement to be very true. Because everything on a boat is constant maintenance and there is never a time when absolutely everything works perfectly. Its just not possible, even with a brand new boat.
We woke up refreshed for the first time in over a week. Nice to sleep through the night and not worry about anchor drag or crashing into shoals or a rocking boat. Jake was motivated to jump right into boat jobs.
We took the courtesy car into Nassau proper (northern part of the island) to do a grocery run and marine store stop. We didn’t know what to expect at all from this. It is definitely weird driving on the wrong side of the car AND the road. Luckily our iPhone has enough data so we could use Waze (our favorite nav app) to get around. We have already grown accustomed to the one-road-small-island thing. Nassau feels like a huge metropolis in comparison.
The grocery store was in a huge shopping area (all the buildings were bright pink). I didn’t have huge expectations based on past experiences in the small islands, but I was shocked at the quality of this place. It was huge – like a whole foods back in the states, only MORE expensive (if you can believe that!). A lot of the same brands and organic items that we are used to, but at much higher prices. We were so impressed with the quality of the produce here. Some things cost way too much to even consider buying (like a head of cauliflower for $13 or broccoli for $15). A box of tangerines in the states might cost $4 but here in Nassau a box of tangerines was $33. Crazy right!?! The marine store was also really well-stocked. We got almost everything on our list and then some. Prices were not outrageous, but definitely more than you can get online or in the states.
We accumulated a hefty boat job list since we last stationary in Bimini. We have this rule that every day requires 2 hours of boat work. You can choose to do this each day, or let it add up over time. 14 days out at anchor equals 28 hours of boat work. Our time in Nassau was well-spent on accomplishing many of these jobs both large and small.
- top off diesel, fuel propane
- order stuff on amazon / marine store websites
- fix loose wood in cabin
- grease steering column
- fix rudder stop
- clean engine
- oil change
- fix fuel leak(s) from fuel delivery system
- dump old oil/gas
- top off water
- clean the boat head to toe
- clean the hull via scuba and check zincs
- fill air (after scuba)
- replace chain hook on anchor
- get outboard engine oil and inboard engine coolant
- inspect and top off batteries
- empty and clean the head
- laundry / sheets / linens
- finish blog(s) and video(s)
- clean out fridge
- sew companionway screen (fix rip)
- sew laundry bag hole (fix rip)
- wipe down all wood / teak inside – clear off any mold
- polish all stainless on external / interior of boat
The list grew even more as days went on. We accomplished every job except the fuel leaking from the fuel delivery system, but only because we need specific tools and don’t have access to those yet. Once we stay put for longer, we will be able to fix the leak (its very minor and won’t hinder our ability to keep moving). We found a plumbing leak under our sink too, but Jake fixed it in just a few hours.
Palm Cay Resort
Palm Cay has been a little resort-paradise. It is so nice here. Everyone who works and lives here is so nice and friendly – they really do treat you like family here. I love how nice everyone is. The Bahamas have the nicest people we’ve ever met. Of course we have also chatted with a lot of the fellow cruisers here, making friends with several of them. We met one gal in particular who was on a chartered sailboat group and was super cool! Tatiana is awesome and we hope she visits us soon wherever we may be. Our boat neighbors, John and Lorie are amazing too – super friendly and helpful and very knowledgeable about this area.
There have been a lot of cruisers coming and going too. Many have been here as long as we have; some from Italy, Canada, France, Norway. A really great cultural mesh. All of us with the same common-ground of boat-work in exotic places, waiting out weather systems and praying for some better Bahamian weather! We’ve met some awesome people and made several new friends. It was the first time in a long time that Jake and I actually got some distance from each other and it was really nice.
I spent most of my time in the coffeeshopt / deli either doing work or working on this blog. They had awesome coffee and sandwiches for pretty cheap. Plus all of the employees were SO NICE and fun to talk too in-between working. Jake spent most of his days working on the boat project list and cooking up some really delicious meals for us to enjoy!
We did manage to have a little fun while we were here too. We took ourselves “out” for a paddle one sunny afternoon to East point (the eastern most part of Nassau). We hoped to scout a good snorkel spot, but there were none. It was a fun paddle though and so nice to get some exercise that isn’t boat work.
All-In-All, Palm Cay was an EXCELLENT marina and made our visit to Nassau wonderful. We can’t wait to come back next year on our way back to the states.
What’s Next for us?
Jake and I have this ever-present conversation of where we want to go next. We can’t ever seem to come to a decision but finally we have a next step. Initially, we were thinking of just taking our time through the Exumas (with the rest of the cruiser pack) and then turn back towards the U.S. But now we are thinking we will bypass the Exumas for now and make our way to Turks and Caicos to stay for a month around mid-February. It has us more motivated than our original plan and it will be a really adventurous push out into deeper, less traveled waters. This is more of our style.
We also decided to stay in Nassau for an extra 4 days to wait out a strong weather system that came passing through. I definitely don’t mind staying comfortable rather than miserable out at anchor. But, as always, we are very restless and ready to make our next move. To Staniel Cay…and beyond!
OH and one more thing…
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAKEY!