The (unplanned) End of our Bahamas Sailing Trip

Beautiful blue water in The Bahamas

In our last blog post, we shared our first few stops in Eleuthera on our way down to the Exumas. With every day of being here, we understand more and more why people fall in love with The Bahamas.

There are many reasons why one would fall in love with these beautiful islands, for us, it’s all about the clear water and the seclusion each island brings. Even though we still spend most of our time working; which we love, we get to enjoy this amazing place when we close our laptops – and are grateful for every moment.

Pelican Cay | Winding Bay | Chub Cay Marina | Back to Florida

Pelican Cay

Storm rolling in, in the Bahamas

After leaving Rainbow Cay with a bit too many boat issues for comfort, we decided to ride out 30-knot winds before our planned trip to the Exumas. Pelican Cay (25.27815, -76.33205) is right by a fairly busy airport, not Houston International busy, but there were at least 5 jets that landed and took off per day (probably more, we weren’t really counting). Even though we anchored right beside an airport, we couldn’t see it and for the most part it felt like we were really far away from civilization – which is a feeling we enjoy most of the time.

While we were dropping the anchor in this beautiful spot, our windlass jammed up and bent an essential piece that is needed to pull the chain off the windlass when pulling up the anchor – bad news for us and our plans to push down to the Exumas. We dropped the hook; looking back didn’t set it correctly because of all the windlass problems, and went through our Exumas plan with a purpose – could we do it without an anchor?

In the end, we decided that we’d make Pelican Cay our last stop before heading back to Florida to get our windlass fixed. Sad that we wouldn’t make it back to the Exumas, but elated that THIS is where we would stay until we ran out of food, water, or both.

We hung out for the first couple of days while we waited for the blow. The day of the big weather shift, the dark clouds made for a great picture, very dramatic and beautiful. We enjoyed dinner right before the clouds reached the boat… and as soon as the sun had set the wind shifted 180-degrees on us. We knew the ground below our boat wasn’t the best, but we didn’t expect to start dragging. In good sand our anchor just digs itself into the ground when the wind shifts, but this wasn’t the kind of sand our anchor likes.

Also, in retrospect, we should have reset the anchor before the big blow. Just to confirm it was good. But, with a broken windlass, we didn’t want to muck something up and make the situation worse.

So, fast forward a couple of hours and we were dragging 500+ feet in 35-knot winds, with a partially broken windlass, manually pulling it up and trying to set it again for over 3 hours. Other boats were dragging all around us, and with our lack of maneuverability due to the windlass/anchor problem, we decided to move up 2 miles to another place.

Of all the scary boat situations we’ve had as we’ve learned how to sail, we were really proud of ourselves for handling this issue so well. It’s extremely difficult to keep the boat in place with strong winds – she gets blown around really well. And, we handled ourselves really well.

TimeZero screenshot of our anchor dragging
Screenshot of TimeZero showing our route when our anchor was dragging (and our attempts to set it again).
Pelican Cay, Bahamas
Lonely tree on a beach by Pelican Cay. The beaches are nice, but not as nice as Royal Island.

Winding Bay

Planning our route back to Florida using TimeZero

After our experience in Pelican Cay, we concluded that having a fully functional windlass is essential to stay safe – after all, you want to be able to pick-up and go quickly in case you need to move (weather etc.). Having reached this conclusion, we planned our journey back to Florida.

The anchorage at Winding Bay (25.305417, -76.348317) was nice, nothing spectacular, other than the dolphins that swam around the boat during breakfast!

Chub Cay Marina

Chub Cay Marina in the Bahamas

Because raising our anchor morphed into quite the project, we decided to book a slip at Chub Cay Marina, which would allow us to recover a bit and finish planning our journey to Florida.

It was a full day sail from Eleuthera to the Berry Islands where Chub Cay rests on the southern tip of the cluster of islands. We got up nice and early, dodged reefs all the way done, went through Fleeming Channel, and we were off! It was a perfect day with light wind, and wasn’t too hectic on the water.

When we got closer to Chub Cay however, the circumstances changed. This was our first marina experience and looking back, would have been good to arrive much earlier than we did. 3pm to 5pm is a hot time for all boats to arrive to a marina like this, we learned. It was pure chaos on VHF channel 16 and 68 when we got close to the marina, with many boats coming in, calling the dockmaster, and asking for a slip ASAP.

After much back and forth with the dockmaster, it was our turn to go through the channel and find our slip. Please keep in mind that we suck as docking, so our stress level was quite high. We made it to our slip after winding through the marina to the slip in the far back (201), but had to abort after 2 attempts to get in. Though we did have to abort, we’re so happy that we had the guts to try this – it’s scary going into places you don’t know with a boat you’re not 100% comfortable maneuvering yet. Kevin did so well moving the boat about!

We decided to anchor out (25.4115, -77.91445) and figure out our next steps. That night we found out that friends with a 40-foot catamaran were assigned the same slip earlier that day and couldn’t get in either. FYI we’re 60-feet long. Very different!

Passage Back to Florida

SV Seamlessly anchored by Treasure Cay, Bahamas

After a couple of nights of R&R anchored outside of the marina, we lifted our anchor and left Chub Cay at 8:25 AM starting our long 133-mile voyage back to Florida. Our longest passage yet! We were a bit nervous about it after our nightmare crossing, but knew we could handle it!

Every time we sit down to plan the route for our next passage, we are SO happy to have TimeZero. It was especially awesome to have TimeZero for our trip back because we had to time when we would be crossing the Gulf Stream and when we would arrive in Fort Lauderdale to make it for the 7:30 AM bridge opening.

Everything worked as planned, but we are already itching to get back out there – once a couple of things are fixed. We’re working with MultiTech again, so let’s see if our first experience was just luck!

The Two Explorkers 2019-03-29T09:20:19+00:00

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