When we headed back south towards Bentaña and the middle beach to hang our signed float on the scrap book tree, we stopped by “Boto” again and Ed offered us a large piece of a 10 pound Snappa (red snapper) that he had caught, cleaned and marinated and Vicky invited us aboard to share some wine. We accepted but said we needed to deliver our float to the island before dark and that we would be back shortly.
Back on the castaway beach at dusk, we hung our ornament with care. We also noted a fine external frame tent covered with an old sail. With a cache of water and victuals here, one can spend an idyllic and isolated holiday in the sun, the surf, the beach, the meadow or a good book. Sorry, no internet.
We had a lovely evening spent chatting with new friends.
Our decision to leave Marsh Harbour when we did was based on the predicted weather window closing and the desire not to sail at night as “Last Tango” was planning. We also wanted to participate in the search described above. A written and unwritten rule of the sea is that all vessels are morally and legally obliged to offer aid to any vessel in distress if safe and practical. This was not exactly the case, as the boat was found and secured, the survivors safe and Laura was presumed drowned. None the less, we had most likely broken bread with Laura (or at least broken pretzels and toasted the adventure with her back in Hampton.) Our travel motto is “go with the flow,” and so we did. BTW, “Rule 62” is “Don’t take yourself too seriously.”
Vicky and Ed who had made this trip before, where headed to Royal Island on the next leg south, and were prepared to make the passage through Little Harbour Cut to the “outside” in the morning, and so we decided that if the morning weather report was favorable, we would follow them out. And so it was, and a long day’s sail once again over dark blue water, with them a mile in front of us brought us to our next snug harbor.
Something you learn quickly on the unmarked open sea is that any unusual or identifiable feature in the distance becomes your lodestone. An unusual cloud shape; the sun’s location in the rigging; a particularly prominent star or celestial configuration at night; or even better, a boat ahead of you going your way all make the helm easier to keep than relying on the ship’s compass or GPS.
We spent the first hour or so motoring through and over the swells, wondering if we had chosen the wrong time to depart, but then it settled down and the wind came up and we were able to motor sail.
Half way there, we found ourselves in a major shipping transit channel. In one hour we encountered six large ships and numerous motor yachts and sports fishers running across our rhumb line, before or behind. Here the technology of AIS (Automated Identification System) proved its value, and is a highly recommended upgrade for blue water cruisers. Our Garmin 441 chartplotter not only contained the most recent “Explorer” charts of the Bahamas, but was linked to our VHF radio w/ AIS receiving antenna. All vessels of a certain size are required to have a transponder transmitting the ships name; number; type; size; destination and most importantly its speed and heading. The chartplotter converts this information into a graphic overlay showing the target vessels position as a pointy triangle, green if benign, and red if danger. Its pointy end extended by a ray showing the potential intersection with our heading, and calculating the minutes and seconds till impact. This video game-like display is more useful than radar, giving more information, and disclosing better information about other boats out of sight, over the horizon.
We caught up to Boto and spent the last hour or so of our 57 nautical mile sailing romp across the Northeast Providence Channel taking photos and videos of each other as we were approaching the cut between Egg Island and Little Egg Island. We decided to stop at Royal Island which has an idyllic protected harbor and dropped the hook. There were only 3 sailboats (the two of us plus one other) and one work boat anchored there.
Steph fired up the BBQ and cooked the fish and we had a delicious late afternoon dinner. After eating our fill, there was still more than half the fish left, so into the reefer it went to be enjoyed again the next day.
Vicky and Ed came over for a boat tour and Sundowners and we had a great time conversing and sharing photos. All too soon, we were all tired, so they went home to their boat and we went to sleep late, at 9:30. LOL
|Ed and Vicky on "Boto"|
|Boto on the deep blue sea|
|Bentaña on the N.E. Providence Channel|