After satisfying ourselves that we has resolved the water leak/bilge pump issue we did one final check on the weather for crossing the gulf stream. We use a number of sources for this: NOAA, WindFinder, Windy, and Marvsweather.com. We had been keeping an eye on a front that was coming down from the North East. The forecasts were all pretty consistent, the front would arrive early evening, there would be 2-3 foot seas until 2pm, then gradually rising to 5 foot seas by 5pm, bigger by 8pm. Our planned course and speed would have us on the Bahamas Bank and shallow waters by 2pm. So the window was good to go.
The morning was warm with light winds from the north east so we rode out of the inlet on the flybridge. NOAA indicated that the west wall of the Gulf Stream was 14 miles east of the inlet. Two hours into the trip we entered the stream, with seas as predicted. About two hours later, and approximately 15 miles into the stream, the wind and seas started to get up so we moved into the Pilothouse.
The weather then turned really nasty. The wind was blowing 25-27 from the north east, gusting to 30 true on our instruments. The seas were pretty confused rather than coming steady from one direction. The stabilizers struggled to keep Sonas from rolling and it got really unpleasant. We had planned to cross onto the bank between 2 and 3, find calmer water and head to Grand Cay. We pounded for another five hours and finally made the bank at White Sand Ridge around 4pm.
However the blow from the east meant that the bank was nasty as well, with short seas right on our nose. We realized that our timing meant we would be entering the very shallow and tight anchorage at Grand Cay in the dark, so we opted to turn about 14 degrees south to take the seas on our forward quarter and head for Great Sale anchorage. We knew this anchorage from before and although we would be running in the dark for about three hours and entering the anchorage using only instruments, we felt it was the wiser option. Around 10pm, using GPS for depth and radar for other boat avoidance, we laid anchor at Great Sale.
Sian here, whilst the above narrative is factually accurate I feel it does not do our rough crossing justice! We thrashed about for hours, lunch had been made but I did not dare open the fridge. (Note to self: put it all in the cooler next time. Next time? Who AM I kidding) At one stage the fridge, although locked down, flew open resulting in soda cans, food and wine bottles rolling madly in high seas. Fortunately only one bottle smashed so I threw paper towels down, retrieved what I could and sat myself back down.
Sian went into the galley to prepare a late dinner and appeared with baked beans on toast – not our usual quality fare. Paul took one look and declared that he was being punished for one silly bad decision!
Sian again. Once anchored we had to restore order, furniture had rolled, broken glass needed lifting and yes the Captain did get beans on toast. At 11.30 pm after a sixteen hour day, he was lucky to see that!
The next day, Tuesday March 27th, the wind was still blowing in the mid-twenties, gusting to 30, so we remained in Great Sale with about 10 other boats. We used the time to tidy up the boat from the day before and unwind after our crossing. We also hoisted the yellow quarantine flag indicating that we had yet to clear customs. Paul was suffering from a pretty bad onslaught of Sciatica (actually Piriformis syndrome) so it helped for him to lie still for a day. He did have to quickly nip into the engine room to lock down the port stabilizer as it was moving with the wave motion and making a knocking noise. Paul does not think that it should be that loose so will be contacting Lambs boat yard after the Easter weekend and discussing it with them.
On Wednesday the winds finally calmed so we headed north to Grand Cay. We arrived at mid-day, launched the dinghy and Paul went ashore to clear customs and buy a Bahamas Telephone Company SIM card. While he was ashore he found the clinic and spoke to the nurse about his sciatica. She made him an appointment with the doctor for the next day. Meanwhile San put him on a stretching regimen, which including using a BBQ gas canister as a roller for deep tissue massage!
On Thursday we went ashore for Paul’s doctor appointment. The clinic was very busy as the doctor only comes to the island once a week. When it was Paul’s turn a man walked into the doctor’s office ahead of him taking Paul a bit by surprise. So much for their version of HIPAA! He was there to tell the doctor that his 10 pound bag of red snapper was 44 dollars! Paul thought about asking for a bag as well but he knew our fridge freezer on Sonas was still bursting at the seams as we had only just arrived.
The doctor wrote a prescription for Lyrica, and then told him that they didn’t have any. That we should take the prescription with us as we may be able to find it on other islands! He also prescribed, and supplied, a week’s supply of a pain killer, Baralgin. We Googled this as we hadn’t heard of it, to find that it was developed back in 1920 and had actually been banned from the US back in 1977! However, needs must, and Paul started shoveling them down his throat!
We headed back to the boat and took off to our next anchorage at Double Breasted. This island is one of the most beautiful in Abaco and we were looking forward to walking its sandbars and maybe taking some drone video. However, arriving at the turn for the anchorage we found that the wind was blowing straight in and it was not very sheltered. We really want to visit here so need to try again later on this trip! We turned south east and started our way towards the Sea of Abaco. We were aiming for Green Turtle on Friday and then Treasure Cay on Saturday, ready to attend Easter Mass at the little Catholic chapel there.
Our first stop was back at Great Sale, which was a nice short cruise and a good setting off point for Green Turtle the next day.