May 8, 2013 by Last Star blog
So after 3 days of hanging out at Dunmore Town we were watching the weather and could not get the same forecast 2 days in a row. With friends arriving in the Abacos the next week we had to make a decision so with Wednesday falling apart and Thursday the 2nd of May looking better and Friday falling apart again we decided to pull the trigger for Thursday. That meant one last dash for ice cream on Wednesday and then preparation for deep water crossing. The big thing on these outings into the real ocean is to lighten the load in the dinghy and on the arch. The dinghy has robust clips heat welded to the body of the dinghy with big rubber patches but as strong as they look there must be a limit on the load–someone should do a “design of experiments and an operational test….. So to lighten the load we remove the gas tank and strap it to the aft deck, remove the 6hp Mercury motor (approx 75 lbs) and put that on the motor mount on the rear pulpit and then lash the dinghy nice and tight to the arch. Without the motor and approx 40 lbs of fuel the dinghy nearly floats up. We double checked everything else and got “ship shape” for the next day.
We got up at 6:00 AM for first light and had our cold rations and did one last weather check via internet with “windfinder.com” and “passagemaker.com”. Same mixed up signals but mostly a calm day. The wind was already out of the southeast so another trip via the Devil’s Backbone would shave about 45 minutes off the day. The Backbone was cake with the track from the Bo Hengy II fast ferry, our “bread-crumbs” and the Garmin “suggested” shallow draft route–Ray Charles could follow this line. In addition, the water was much calmer than the previous West to East trip. This was pretty much cake, just stay on the dotted line(s). The only issue was we were nose to nose with a Bahamian cargo ship right in the backbone and he was NOT up on the radio to coordinate the pass….we ended up doing a dance left-right-left even after trying to raise him numerous times. Nice work Cap’n. We were out of the backbone by 8:00 and headed north. We tried sailing for about an hour and could barely keep it at 4.0 knots or greater, that would put us there around 10:00 PM–not ideal. So we fired up the motor and continued with the sails and motor and made 6’s and 7’s for better time.
Well by early afternoon we had a reef in the main and the head-sail, the comfortable swell with a 10 second period was now mixed up with chop and our smooth northbound ride was becoming hellish. We slogged like that for another 3 hours. A little “weirdness” from Garmin; seems when we went into the Atlantic the system put us on Atlantic Time zone and then as we got back into the Bahamas we switched back to Eastern Daylight. The result was for a few hours when Patricia would ask when are we getting there the answer was always the same “couple of hours”!! As we were nearing the cut to enter near Lynyrd Cay we were on a collision course with another cargo vessel; this guy we could raise on the radio and coordinated a check turn to make sure we cleared by plenty. After he swung aft of us Patricia saw a school of Dolphins “high-tailing” it to catch up to his bigger vessel. These guys were flying! Leaping out of the water in big long leaps. I surmised that the longer “time of flight” of the dolphin permits them a bigger better breath as this seems like a sprint mode for them. The slow roll to the surface wouldn’t cut it speed and breathing wise. It was pretty cool to see them all going to the big boat.
By the time we made the cut it was a mess of swell and rollers and we came “sliding into second” in a cloud of dust–or was it a spray of water but we got into the sea of Abaco safely. We scooted north a mile or two to escape the surge and rollers and found a nice anchorage for the night. Good thing as a low is moving through (reason for mixed up forecasts) and we had rain (clean boat), lots of wind and more the next morning.
It seems as we moved from Exuma to Eleuthera and now Eleuthera to Abacos the short ocean crossings are more and more miserable….maybe we shouldn’t leave?