Rainy days in Georgia

By Kevin

We’re sitting at the Morning Star Marina on St. Simon Island. This beautiful area is part of the greater Brunswick, Georgia area and is the primary urban center in southeastern Georgia.

We’ve been sitting here for two nights, enjoying the marina and nearby areas. We are not sticking around, though, because of the beauty of the area. It just won’t stop raining! After motoring for two days in heavy rain and wind with little sleep, when we pulled into the slip at Morning Star, we all collapsed in bed.

We are planning to stay here one more night, waiting for the forecast sunshine. Then, we’ll continue north aiming to hit Savanna by the afternoon of May 7th.

Fort Pierce to St. Augustine, Florida

By Kevin

Now that we are back in the U.S. and properly rested up, we’ll be heading north on a cruise of the legendary Intracoastal Waterway (ICW). The ICW is a string of rivers and canals connected so as to allow boats to follow a mostly protected water route from Florida to New England. Our plan is to go only as far as North Carolina and then put the boat up for sale in the Beaufort area, which is a southeastern U.S. sailing hub.

Our third night out, we stopped in a marina in St. Augustine, the “oldest city in North America.” It was founded by the Spanish in 1565 and has a exceptionally well-maintained stone fort that was built as early as 1672 but heavily enhanced over the next 200 years.

St. Augustine is also one of the largest boutique towns we’ve ever seen. It has a beautiful historic downtown that features block after block of restaurants and shops, from tacky to chic.

Back in the U.S. of A.

By Kevin

The plan was to sail from Great Sale Cay to Jacksonville, Florida. 260 miles. Two nights and three days.

The plan lasted for 18 hours.

We first traveled northwest from Great Sale Cay, leaving the 20 foot deep water of the Little Bahama Bank for the 2000 foot deep water of the Atlantic Ocean.

We averaged four knots under sail for much of the day. Then the wind died. We had to fire up the engine and push the boat along using our precious store of diesel fuel. Hours went by and the wind didn’t return.

Our plan to get to Jacksonville had one assumption that we couldn’t work around. We needed to sail for at least 110 of the 260 mile voyage. We only carry that much fuel.

About 1 A.M., 18 hours after leaving, we were still only 50 miles north of Great Sale Cay. We should have been at least 90. Worse, though, was that the wind still wasn’t blowing and the weather forecast was light winds the following day.

We made the decision to turn the boat on a west-southwest course, to reach for Fort Pierce only 80 miles away. We motor-sailed until 4 P.M. the next afternoon, fighting against the northbound current of the Gulf Stream but pushed along by the 6-8 foot seas rolling in from behind us. Ocean swells that had traveled from as far away as Bermuda and the Azores.

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On watch

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On watch

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On watch

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On watch

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Back in the U.S.A!

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Landfall in Fort Pierce

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The crew and boat in the slip at Fort Pierce

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Lowering the Bahamas courtesy flag

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Lowering the Bahamas courtesy flag

 

 

Final days in the Bahamas

By Kevin

After leaving Treasure Cay, Bahamas, our plan to get back to the U.S. was to sail 50 miles west to Great Sale Cay, rest overnight, and then head north-northwest to Jacksonville, Florida, which is a long 260 miles. Or, in sailboat terms, two overnight passages assuming that we could cover at least 120 miles per day for the three days. If we moved slower than that five knot rate, we would have to add an additional overnight to the passage.

With that plan in mind, we left Treasure Cay, first successfully transiting through Whale Cay Cut, an often dangerous strip of water that leads from the Sea of Abaco to the Atlantic Ocean north of the Bahamas. When ocean swells are hitting Whale Cay Cut from the wrong direction, ten foot or larger breaking waves will make the cut impassable, sometimes for days.

We anchored for the night outside of the harbor at Green Turtle Cay. Since we were in transit, we stayed on the boat, listened to some music coming from a nearby beachside tavern, and sat out watching the stars.

The next day, during hours of grey and nippy drizzle, we raced a French Canadian sailboat west to Fox Town on Little Abaco.They beat us in by a few minutes, but after a day long sail we were okay with that. Both boats anchored in the little Fox Town harbor next to a German boat that was resting before continuing heading north from Cuba.

Fox Town is the last, tiny bit of civilization before a boat heads out into the remote islands west of the Abacos, where Great Sale Cay lays. Fox Town is a little fishing hamlet with an air of poverty and decay. We road the dinghy in to the only open restaurant or bar in Fox Town. It is called the Valley Inn, though there is no valley nearby. We were served by Theresa, a retired American who ran the small operation. She appeared to stay in business by selling a trickle of Kaliks and single cigarettes to the local out-of-season fishermen. Theresa and her husband Neal have their Bahamas retirement home up for sale and are looking forward to moving back to West Palm Beach, Florida when they find a buyer.

We made Great Sale Cay the next day. It is a seven mile long, deserted, scrubby island shaped like a wishbone. Boats traveling between the U.S.A to the Abacos use it as an overnight rest stop or to wait out bad weather before making the big jump. When we arrived there were three other boats and by the end of the night, there were twelve, all waiting to head back to the States. We were greeted by S/V Promises Kept, a kid boat with two teenage girls that we had met months before in Farmers Cay. It is always a nice feeling to come into a harbor and run in to a boat or two that you’ve met before. They were also waiting to make the jump but to Fort Pierce, Florida, which is only 100 miles from Great Sale Cay (and only one overnight).

Since this was April 24th, we celebrated Madeline’s thirteenth birthday and I baked her fudge brownies. The oven tilted and so half of them were crispy, well-done and the other half were gooey, undercooked. Perfect!

Great Sale Cay would be the last Bahamas island we would see on this trip.

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Breakfast before leaving Treasure Cay

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Our view of Green Turtle Cay

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Dinner at Valley Inn in Fox Town

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View from The Valley Inn

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Theresa and Neal (ready to move back to the U.S.A)

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Fox Town may have seen better days

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Madeline’s 13th birthday party with fudge brownies

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Boats waiting to jump off from Great Sale Cay to the U.S.A.

We’re back in the U.S.A

By Kevin

Real LIfe and crew are sitting safely in a slip at Harbortown Marina, Fort Pierce, Florida, after sailing for 33 hours from the Abacos.

We’ll post more on our last 4-5 days in the Bahamas when we wake up from our stupor.