Posted by: catamarantwooceans | July 13, 2008

February 2007- Florida to the Bahamas

Feb 16th –  Flying from Israel to Miami for the closing. The flight take 15 hours and I get to the Catamaran Company at 1330. Tara, the closing agent, is there’ dressed in pink for the occasion. She take the notarized papers I brought with me and say:”OK, you’re all set”. Hey, don’t I get any document stating that we are now the owners? No, for that I have to visit ASAP the marine documentation firm that is doing the paperwork, including the registration. But there is no time for it today because I have to rush the boat to Lauderdale Marine Center, and take her out for saildrive service and a few other jobs, including radar installation. Luckily I found Juda, the son of the Herzlia marina manager in Israel, who runs a yacht management business here. He is a big help and also a big guy…

Juda on the job

He comes to work on the weekend,bringing Gal, an Israeli mechanic living and working in Florida, thus saving me a few days. They Install the new radar (Furuno 1715) service the saildrives and engines and other jobs that I didn’t think I will have to do on a boat that was sailing continuously. On the 20th, Juda and me take the boat to Pier 66 marina and Oved, a colleague from my (former) airline joins us.

Pier 66 marina

Feb 21st – We go out of the marina for training. Approaching the SE 17th bridge i do not hesitate and pass. Oved looks at the markers at the base of the bridge’s support. It shows 56.5 feet. “What is the hight of the mast do you know?”. “I think 17 meters, but we passed here on the sea trial that we did as part of the survey”. Well, it does look very close but we are through with no mishap. They do have tides here, don’t they? Gotta be careful! We go out, raise the main, unfurl the jib and of we go on a flat sea with light wind. We do some tacks, jibes and reef both sails. After about 2 hours we turn back. Now the markers on the bridge show about 56 feet. We enter slowly, and this time it is almost touching. Why didn’t I ask the bridge controllers to open it for us? Later on the boat we dig out the owner’s manual and see that the mast clearance is 55.4 feet. Ouch! Does this include the V.H.F antenna? There is so much to learn on a new boat, so many system and manuals, the engines, the plotter, the electrical system etc. etc.

Oved navigates

Feb 22- We go out of  Pier 66, destination: Bimini. As we were only able to get to sleep last night so late, we decided against going straight to Grand Bahama, a trip which is about 25 miles longer. Wind 330, required track 117 degrees, we want to get there in daylight so it’s motorsailing a lot. Only when we are about 15 miles to the island we can sail. The Gulf stream makes no problems today, except for 2.5 knots on the nose, but the sea is quite flat. The entrance to Bimini is nothing like the book (Yachtsman guide to the Bahamas) says. Instead of two white and orange poles that are supposed to make a transit, there are some red and green buoys and a red trapeze. We go into Blue Water Resort marina, tie the boat and rush to Customs and Immigrations. 300$ will give you the pleasure of cruising the Bahamas. Not complaining! In the evening we go to “?The End Of The World” pub and restaurant. Lobster in a sort of take away bag and sampling the Kalik beer, with the decoration of ladies underwear stuck on the ceiling conclude our day.

Feb 23- We decide to split the  way to Grand Bahamas and stop for the night in Great Issac Island. It is supposed to give you good shelter when the wind is from the north. Tonight it’s from the northeast,reaching 20 kts and small waves getting into the anchorage make for an uncomfortable night.

Feb 24- Morning starts with NE wind, 20 kts. We put in second reef in the main and motorsail towards Port Lucaya Marina. The waves are about 6 feet high and the boat is tracking along nicely, when suddenly the port engine stops. “Rope!” I say and to make sure  I start it and when trying to put it into gear it stops again. Looking aft the rope is seen, we are also dragging some buoy. We cut the rope and change course to make the sails effective. The sea is too rough to go into the water so now we are sailing in the direction of Freeport harbour. As we get closer to Grand Bahama it becomes clear that if we want to proceed to Port Lucaya we will have a hard time going against the wind on a single engine.So we are looking for an alternate. Shall we go into Running Mon or Ocean Reef marina? An intelligent way of deciding is flipping a coin and it is Running Mon. We enter through the narrow channel and in five minutes the rope and two floats are off. We put the throttles forward and speed towards Port Lucaya marina. Big complex, water, electricity – all we need. We stay another day for a few jobs on the boat and to wait for favorable winds.

Feb 26 – We leave Port Lucaya for Deep Water Cay, aptly named as you will see later. The wind is SW 20 KTS. We raise the main to the first reef, turn towards our destination, unfurl the jib and the boat accelerates. I look at the speed instruments as a gust hit us and it shows 12.5 KTS. No drama, just a number on the dial. The autopilot hold the course easily, not like my old boat where I had to steer whenever the wind went aft. Reaching the entrance I try to follow the instructions in the “Yachtsman Guide to the Bahamas” but the bottom rises quickly and as I put the engines in reverse to stop the boat, the depth shows 0.9 meter, we touch briefly and I turn back the way we came. From the village to the west come help in the form of a motorboat. “You want me to show you in?” “Sure we do”.Confidently, as if seeing some marks on the sea surface Audley leads us in, without ever going below 1.2 meters. We tie at the fishing club dock, as an eagle ray glides past. Now we can relax. The place is run by Chris and Amanda and Gill who works for them. “It does get lonely at times” he says. The people working there come from the village nearby and leave after work. There is a 4200 foot landing strip on the island and private jet bring bone fishing enthusiasts to wade in the shallows, catch fish and release them to face another day. We have a drink and dinner for a price that will buy you a meal at Nubo and go to bed.

Feb 27 – Early in the morning there’s rain, thunder and lightning. At 0700 the tide is high but ebbing. Audley comes to lead us out, gets handsomely paid and we are off to Morse Island.

Audley pilots us out

In the beginning there is no wind so we motorsail using one engine. We start our fishing season by setting a lure about 60 meters astern. It doesn’t take long and the reel sings. We have our first fish! It is a Barracuda, 65 cm long. I fillet the fish and put two meals for two in the fridge.

my first cuda

My first Cuda

Around that time the wind picks up and we are sailing. Now it’s Oved on the rod and reel and when his fish hits I try, according to the recommendations I read here and there, to stop the boat. It is a big one! When the boat was in motion the rod bent alarmingly, but when we lost forward movement the line went slack and when Oved reeled it in he got a bare line, no fish, no lure. I now think that one should slow, not stop the boat completely, in order to maintain pressure on the line.Reaching Channel Cay we turn for Morse and the town called “Hard Bargain”. Here, again, the depth for anchoring is not really what I am used to. We anchor at 1.7 meters! We dinghy to the dock, friendly locals greet us.

Catch of the day

Catch of the day

Feb 28 – Today’s destination is Sandy Point in south Abaco. The weather is not nice, CB’s all around and the wind is veering and backing making for choppy seas and waves from all sectors at the same time. On our way we pass Gorda Cay, where a big cruise ship is moored next to a three masted pirate ship. It turns out the Island now belongs to the Disney corp. and they bring their clients for the circus.From here we have another 8 miles to go. We read again the description in the book and cannot understand where the anchorage is! Getting nearer we spot two docks, to one of which a motor catamaran is tied. If the depth is OK for him it should be the same for us. The last two miles are sailed in not more than 2 meters over sand but about 300 meters from the dock the bottom comes up and at 1 meter I back up and anchor in 1.5 m ( can you believe it?). Since the wind is still quite strong I tie the spare anchor, a CQR, to the main Delta’s chain and lower it down as a weight. This way I may be able to sleep at night.At 1600 the sun comes out and the wind dies. We take the dinghy ashore in search of Internet. People send us to the Balteco , the omnipresent Bahamian telephone company, office. It is closed but there is a couple inside and they open the door. Hearing our request, Chris, takes us to his home and lets us use his computer, refusing any payment. What a nice man! Chris Rocker – thanks!

Chris and I

Chris and I

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