Eleuthera and then Backwards.   3 comments

Royal Island sunset

Royal Island sunset

We departed Marsh Harbor on 29 December and moved to Lynyard Cay in the southern part of the Abacos.  Weather looked good for a crossing to Eleuthera on 30 December so we crossed from Lynyard Cay in the Abacos to Royal Island in Eleuthera.  After a peaceful night at anchor in Royal Island, we went through Current Cut and

approaching current cut

approaching current cut

anchored in the northern portion of Hatchett Bay on New Year’s Eve.  Hatchett is very protected and has some mooring balls but we preferred to trust our own

anchor.  Following a bottle of “bubbly” to celebrate New Year’s, we were in bed by “cruiser’s midnight”, meaning 9pm!  We are such a party crew!

current cut

current cut

On New Year’s Day with light winds from the southeast, we departed Hatchett Bay and had a

where water met sky

where water met sky

great six hour motor sail to Rock Sound.  We anchored in our usual spot on the eastern side of the sound near the Wild Orchid restaurant.  With light winds, we had a very peaceful night.

it blends together

it blends together

January 2nd was spent preparing for a cold front which was due to pass our area in the next couple of days.  Preparations included fresh vegetable shopping at the small local grocery store and adding fuel to the boat.  Fueling required walking to the local Esso service station with the cart filled with jerry jugs.  The new owners of the Esso service station were very friendly and offered free wifi while we filled the jugs with diesel.  We added 18 gallons of diesel to the tanks.  After filling the tanks, we met with Brian off S/V Ambergris and gave him a short tour of Rock Sound since this was his first time here.  We had a nice lunch at Sammy’s restaurant, one of our favorite places to eat in Eleuthera then shared a couple of beers at the Wild Orchid restaurant.  We returned late afternoon to the boat and decided to make water with our new reverse osmosis water maker.  The water maker addition makes life a lot easier this year as I do not have to schlep water from the local faucet or hydrant and transport it back to the boat in jerry jugs in the dinghy, which becomes an all-day event.

Here comes the cold front

Here comes the cold front

With predicted bad weather coming, we moved from the east side of the sound to the west side on 3 January.  The west side provides more protection from west winds with a passage of a cold front.  Our winds today were from the south, then southwest, then west, and finally changed to the northwest.  The winds started out light but on 4 January they were from the 25-30 knot range with heavy rain, well, at least the boat is getting washed from the rain.

Rock Sound sunset

Rock Sound sunset

After listening to Chris Parker’s weather report the next morning, we decided to move back to the east side of the sound as the winds were predicted to shift from the north to the north east and be in the 25-40 knot range.  By early evening, we had winds in the mid to high 20s with gusts in the 30+ knot range and lots of driving rain.  All night, we had driving rain and high winds, marked with not much sleep as we continue to check everything throughout the night.  Terri was concerned that with high northeast winds, the water would be driven out of the anchorage and we would be sitting high and dry aground but our depth stayed just a bit over 6.1 to 6.3 feet, meaning we were barely floating just off the bottom.  Okay, with 25-30 knot winds, it was a bit stressful……but the following day…….it would get much worse!

the day before the storm

the day before the storm

Chris Parker’s weather report on 6 January preached doom and gloom with high northeast then east winds but by 0930 in the morning, the sun finally peeks out.  Winds were strong in the morning but by early afternoon, the winds became very light and variable.  Terri writes in her log that the late afternoon “brought an eerie calm with no wind at all”.  By 5:30pm, Terri decides to take a shower and start preparing our dinner.  She puts pork chops in the oven to bake and put the side dishes on to cook then waits for me to take a shower to serve dinner.  Just as I am getting ready to hit the shower, the winds picked up from zero to 25, 35, 40, then over 50 knots in a matter of minutes.  Needless to say, I postponed my shower and cranked the engine to try to keep the boat pointed into the wind to ease the tension on the anchor.  Our Rocna anchor held but with the strength of the winds, we were doing circles around the anchor while healed over at about a 30 degree angle.  We were concerned the anchor chain would become wrapped around the rudder or propeller plus another boat was literally circling around us because he lost his anchor….perhaps he was trying to use us as a reference point as it was pitch black and we had our running lights on…who knows?  Of course, it could always get worse and ……it did!!

With the neighboring boat circling us, we decided to pull the anchor and get away before he ran into us.  Before pulling the anchor, we had to deal with our bimini and the connecting piece to the dodger.  The winds were so strong, it had separated the zippers so we found ourselves trying to hold the pieces in place…and yes, continue to steer the boat, all in 50+ knots of wind….yes, we were flapping in the wind!  We finally got the flying pieces under control and tossed them below to keep them from flying off.  Our cock pit cushions were also shoved below when they began to fly off. Okay, I guess this is a good time to transition to the flying off parts…….!  We clocked winds to 58.6 knots (67.4 mph, almost hurricane strength) then our wind instrument stopped working….because it blew off!  Okay, it got a bit worse…..!

With the strong winds, our jib sail began to unwrap.  When we rolled it up on our last sail, we

the resulting shredded jib

the resulting shredded jib

had a good wrap of the ropes around it.  The sail started to unwrap above the ropes.  So, now, we really have to get the anchor up and maneuver so we can pull out the sail and get it down before it is too severely damaged.  With Terri at the wheel, we finally get the anchor up…. Somehow; we thought it was buried to China.  After it was all over, Terri reflected there was so much wind, rain, and waves crashing over the bow, she had lost sight of me a couple of times and thought I had been washed overboard.  We had our safety harnesses on so we would not have been washed too far.  Anyway, anchor finally up, and yes, we still had that boat circling us, so we motored out to the entrance of the sound, turned so the wind was behind us and the boat was on a “run” and pulled the jib out so we could pull it down.  Oh yes, it was still blowing in the 50 knot range and would be for almost four hours duration.  After getting the jib down, we pulled back into the anchorage and re-anchored near the church at Rock Sound.  It was interesting the church had Wednesday night services and had all of its lights on, which we used as a “guiding light” back into the anchorage.  If it had been any other night, the church lights would not have been on and we could have been flailing in the dark trying to anchor.

Once re-anchored, we decided to try to calm a bit and gather everything together.  While I secured the jib sail on the back of the boat and got everything together on the outside of the boat, Terri went below and said later the boat looked like it had been turned upside down as everything loose fell into the floor.  She had been cooking dinner before the “event” happened and had the where-with-all to secure the pots and turn the gas off when the wind kicked up.  Since it was now so late, we put tonight’s dinner in the refrigerator and opened a can of soup.  They say soup makes everything better…..well, it was good and after having a shower of salt and rain water, it definitely warmed us up.  We even started to laugh a bit.  We were both exhausted so after a hot shower, we went to bed.

On 7 January, we woke early with the winds pipping up again.  We listened to Chris Parker’s weather again and he indicated we had had a “derecho” like event the night before.  A line of severe weather over 200 miles long moved through the Bahamas.  From Chris’s weather report, it seems Staniel Cay in the Exumas was the worst hit area with winds in the 106 knot range (121+ mph).  Georgetown had reports of 95 knots of wind (109+ mph) with a couple of boats being washed ashore near the Chat n Chill restaurant and multiple damages to boats.  Chris Parker referred to it as being a “black swan” event, meaning “a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact.”  Bottom line, this was the nastiest weather we have ever been in but we are okay and the boat was not damaged.

So, now the “backwards” part of this report.  We were planning to depart Rock Sound and head for Black Point in the Exumas in search of repairs to the sail, bimini, and a wind transducer for the mast head.  With all the reported damage in the Staniel Cay area, we decided to go instead to Spanish Wells.  We called a canvas repair facility and upon discussions they believe they can temporarily repair our jib sail.  The luff of the sail looks like it has been put through a shredder for about 4 or so inches.  We think if the shredded part can be cut off and resewn, then that could be a temporary fix until we return to the US following our winter in the Bahamas. 

Terri sewing the bimini

Terri sewing the bimini

With a possible fix for the jib, we departed Rock Sound on 8 January and anchored at Royal Island following a nine hour motoring trip.  With a windy start, we then moved from Royal Island to Spanish Wells Yacht Haven marina early on Saturday.  With this being the weekend and Monday being a holiday, Terri pulled out the sewing machine and is currently restitching the bimini and connecting piece.  She thinks she can temporarily repair the canvas until we return to the US for a permanent repair.

We contacted our insurance company and filed a damage report.  A little difficult since we are in the Bahamas and all of the contact information said to call this “1-800” number for assistance, we cannot call 1-800 from the Bahamas but finally figured it out.  For the wind transducer, we will contact R and B Marine services in Spanish Wells to either secure a new transducer or a hand held wind indicator to continue our winter retreat.

Now for the hard part….self-evaluation of how or what we could have done differently?  The “black swan” event was not predicted to occur but in hindsight, Chris Parker indicated a subtropical low could form far to the east of Eleuthera and proceed to around Bermuda where it could possibly be the first named storm of 2016…..a named storm in January…that is unheard of…!  Instead the “subtropical low” formed along a 200 mile line stretching through the Bahamas and wreaked havoc along the way.  We were hit hard but other locations were hit harder…so it could have been worse.  The sails…..I think we were lucky to have gotten the sail down before it was totally destroyed.  Terri did a super job of driving the boat and keeping the 50+ knots to our backs so we could pull the sail out then down.  And I, well, I was firmly attached to the boat so I was not going anywhere.  All in all, I do not think we could have done anything differently.  We reacted to the event and dealt with it.  Was it pretty…..certainly not!  Do we want to do it over……NO!

We really do not know how long we will be in Spanish Wells, but we hope our time is short.  The marina we are staying at has been under some sort of construction for the last four years.  The docks are new but do not have water service and only makeshift electricity on the docks; we are plugged in and it seems to be working.  Once we get the temporary repairs done, we will depart again heading south to Rock Sound.  Then, we plan to cross over to the Exumas and continue our winter trip.  Did this set us back…..yes!  Will we continue….well, we are laughing at each other, still playing dominoes, and are now exploring Spanish Wells.  The sun is shining, Terri is saying “ha, ha” while she resews the bimini, so life is gooooood!elbow cay sunset2

Until our next update…….

Bill and Terri

Posted January 16, 2016 by svsecondoption in Uncategorized

3 responses to “Eleuthera and then Backwards.

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  1. We hope the rest of your adventures are less stressful! Unfortunately we can relate! Great narrative! Love your smiling face at the sewing machine Terry. .

  2. OMG! That’s some night! You two are seasoned sailors for having the sense of mind to do what it takes to protect your boat. So glad you came through it all so well! Wishing you calm seas ahead! Hugs, jean & Brett

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