We’ve crossed the Gulf Stream and are in the Abacos (Bahamas)! Can’t say it was all roses and unicorns, but we made it – albeit a bit of an adventure. As I write this post, the sunrise over Plymouth Settlement, Green Turtle Cay, is stunning!
We departed Lake Worth, FL on Thursday (11JAN 18) after nearly 2 weeks at anchor waiting on an acceptable Gulf Stream crossing window. Slipping out between cold fronts, we got out of the Lake Worth inlet (motoring) around 5pm with a shifting ESE wind and a three to five foot sea state. At 20 miles out, we hit a squall line and although lumpy and rainy, (still motoring since winds had not shifted to the SE as forecast) we pressed on into the Stream (destination – Freeport Grand Bahamas). About 15 miles out, our engine quit. Sails went up and the stream carried us North toward Memory Rock on the Little Bahama Banks. We just couldn’t make the Southing we required under sail alone so we pointed toward Great Sale Cay. After Racor and engine filter changes, the engine still would not start – so we anchored on the banks to rest.
The next morning we sailed off the anchor (still no motor) and continued toward Great Sale Cay arriving at nearly midnight but getting safely to anchor again in the bight of the Cay. As the sun rose on day three, another boat hailed us from a few miles astern to ask our destination. When we told them of our engine problem, Thomas and Charlotte from SV Cabbie offered assistance upon arrival at Spanish Cay as Thomas was a diesel mechanic convinced (after hearing of our engine symptoms) that we simply had an air bubble in our fuel injection system from the rough passage across the Stream. He was right…minutes in our engine room and she was purring like a kitten! What a relief!
With our new friends, we proceeded to render assistance to another boat (Brian and Joyce of SV Pawsitive Latitude) who had also lost their engine (but with a much more serious problem-the high pressure injection pump failed). We all checked in to customs at Spanish Cay as winds piped up to 27-30 knots. Boats were dragging in in the anchorage; SV Cabbie’s tender flipped over in the night so now we were all helping each other repair water-logged outboards and addressing high wind issues like a torn mainsail clew on Pawsitive Latitude; Cabbie’s slipping windless clutch and our own stuck mainsail shive. We got it all repaired except for Pawsitive Latitude…still crippled with no engine.
After three days at Spanish Cay, Cabbie Set off for Rat Cay to do some exploring and we shadowed Pawsitive Latitude (viewed through our dodger below-right) to Green Turtle Cay on a nice NE wind and a great sail to our new destination.
Losing an engine is a real bummer! We were glad to have ours back! We certainly got lots of advanced sailing practice (with no engine) but avoided the dreaded towage and marina fees getting safely in and out of relatively empty anchorages in the Abaco winter.
The stress of sailing a crippled boat is humbling but the crew came together and made the best of the situation arriving safely (albeit slowly) to each successive destination where repairs could be made. We are each bettered by the experience but would have preferred not to have such an adventure beset upon us.
The winter weather continues to be unsettled. Cold fronts are frequent with small sailing windows in between to get to another anchorage but we will enjoy each stop as best we can – even if we are stuck in one spot longer than we’d like to be. There is always a way to pass the time aboard.
A final note…yes, it’s true…things are expensive in the Bahamas!…even during off season. Diesel is $4.70 pr gallon; eggs are $7.00 a dozen; a quart of ice cream is $13.00! Some things we will just have to do without as a routine and rack it up into the “treat” category when the time is right to pamper ourselves.