We departed Wilmington about 0100 on Monday, November 8, 2010 and motored through Snow’s Cut to the Cape Fear River. Carol and Harry saw our lights and followed us with the telescope until we were out of sight. The tide was favorable and we traversed the 20 miles to Southport with the Iron Jib (Motor) without incident. At 0420 we were in the ocean. We set the main sail and continued to make way with the engine. It was chilly, well, downright COLD; I was wearing my snowmobile suit and everyone else was layered up with about all the clothes they had on board… The winds were out of the NNE and were brisk. We again had waves and swells, but not as heavy as before, thank goodness! We were hand steering, as before, because we had been unable to swing the compass for the autopilot….
The sun rose soon after and it was glorious to behold. It would be three days before we arrived in the Bahamas. The shear grandeur of nature was/is amazing….the water color, the sea creatures, visits by dolphins and birds, the sense of space and unlimited visibility, the color of the sky, the millions of stars, the cloud shapes, the waves..…
The winds were light (well ,down to between 9 and 15 knots—it’s all relative) off our port quarter and the genoa was luffing, so we decided to set the whisker pole (3 inches in diameter and extended to 20 feet to hold the sail out. All was fine and we were making way when all of a sudden, CRACKKKKKK ! WHAMMMM!, the pole shuddered, departed the mast and began flailing around the deck and threatening to pierce the dodger and break the transom of the dingy which was stored on deck for our ocean passage.. Steph was below and Dave was at the wheel, so it was up to Tim and me, the smallest human crew members, to wrestle the pole down and do it without killing ourselves or inflicting more damage on the boat. Luckily we were both tethered onto the boat, because the pole was bucking like an enraged bronco and it felt like it was trying to throw us overboard. The ring on the mast track had parted. Tim and I survived with only minor bruises and we finally got the pole situated on deck.
Every morning at 0800 and every evening at 1900 (7 pm) we had a single sideband (SSB) call with the rest of the Bahamas fleet. It was interesting to hear where everyone was, what they had for dinner, what sea life they had experienced, what fish had been caught and just to hear other voices and know that we were not alone on the earth…. ;) We were rapidly converging with the other boats that had left Charleston, SC the morning we left Wilmington, NC. We had 40 miles further to go, and were fast enough that we converged with the rest of the fleet for our entrance to the Bahamas.
During out second night out, Dave and Steph were in the cockpit and I heard them calling another boat on the VHF radio. The other boat was not responding and we were on a collision course. They were watching carefully and when we got close enough, they blew the airhorn to get the other skipper’s attention. The other boat changed course slightly and a few moments later came on the radio and asked who we were and where we were going. The other vessel coming from the west was a French catamaran on its way to the Caribbean. The skipper had been napping. I’m glad that WE were paying attention as we passed within 100 feet of each other.
Day three brought us very little wind, so we motored all day and through the night. There were swells, some of them quite large. All of a sudden it was like we were on top of a high mountain and could see all around. We had a visual encountered with “Sandpiper”, another vessel from our fleet, and took some long distance pictures of them sailing in the sunset. The plan was to meet the rest of the fleet on 11/11/10 at 0600 outside Loggerhead Channel to enter the Sea of Abaco together in the daylight and to be in port well before the impending very heavy wind and seas that were forecasted to follow.
We entered the Sea of Abaco in a little parade of 5 or 6 boats and followed Mahalo, our “mother-ship”, to the Conch Inn and Marina, which is also a Moorings and Sunsail charter base. We all made it into the slips, tidied up and all
the captain’s went ashore with all the paperwork to go through immigration and customs.
|Bentaña dressed for the parade|
|Sea of Abaco|
|The Perservering Crew l to r: Steph, Judy, Dave and Tim|
It was nice walking around the docks and seeing other ship’s crews and comparing how tired we all were..At 1600 (4 pm) there was a gathering at the Inn’s bar “Curlytails”(named for the little lizards with curly tails that abound), and everyone had a drink or two. We were awarded our “Perseverance in the Face of Adversity (or something like that)” Award and had another drink. Many of us went to dinner at Snappa’s and had Cracked Conch, which was truly a culinary treat. Our crew headed back to the boat and commented on how late it must be, since we were soooooo tired. We all howled with laughter when we found the time was only 7:30 pm!! We were all in bed and asleep by 8 pm.