And we’re off


Overall, it took two overnight sails, followed by two all-day sails to reach our happy place.  As we left Florida, we watched a convoy of boats en route to Bimini ~45 miles away (we missed the meeting; literally, there was a planning meeting the night before).  






We tried something new this year to clear into the Bahamas at Morgan’s Bluff, Andros in lieu of Nassau or George Town.  


Trolling the whole way across the Gulf Stream, the only thing we caught was seaweed!


There were about a dozen other cruising boats on the shallow banks with us that first night, the majority anchored.


We passed a few cargo ships too, of course one right in the tight squeeze entering the Northwest Providence Channel at 2 AM into the Tongue of the Ocean.





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It was a peaceful overnight motor-sail across the Great Bahama banks.  We arrived at our first stop in Andros on a calm and very pink mooring.




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This sleepy area on the northernmost side of the island is abustle once a week when the mailboat comes in for deliveries.  Everyone from the island brings up their trucks while the single forklift makes quick work of loading them.  Andros and a few other islands were hit exceptionally hard by hurricane Matthew last October; the main evidence we noticed being dead casuarina trees on their sides.  


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Customs and Immigration came soon after our arrival thanks to the helpful dock master, Kayra.  We received less days from Immigration on our visa than we wanted (90 days), even though we can always renew, and had to pull the boat up to the dock for a quick Customs inspection.  Nonetheless, from anchor down to getting back underway only took three hours and we were officially checked into the Bahamas.  







The next cold front was heading down bringing strong winds from the north the next day.



Morgan’s Bluff was exposed to the north, so we travelled overnight again down the Tongue of the Ocean and across the Decca Channel to Great Guana Cay in the Exumas for our next stop.  











On both night sails, the dog watch from 2-5 AM was a pitch black pallet with the Milky Way painted across the sky.  Planets were up and down throughout the night, Venus, Mars and Jupiter, as well as Ursa Major and Minor with the North Star and Seven Sisters (Pleiades) nearby.  





With help from the SkyView iPad app I could admire constellations Orion, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, and Leo



... and their respective stars like Betelguese, Aldebaran, Pollux & Caster, Asellus Borealus and Regulus, plus the two brightest stars in the sky, Sirius and Canopus.  



With all of that star-gazing my watch went by quickly.








In Great Guana Cay we tucked into Little Bay with a few other boats for the blow.  Even got in a beach walk and laundry day during the calmer periods.  It was great to be greeted by azure waters, a pristine beach and a cute little yellow-rumped warbler!







 



It was here that we first saw Jonathon on his boat Miss Adventure.  Mark thought that name sounded familiar and we soon pieced together the story we’d seen on the internet that he recently had his dinghy stolen nearby at Compass Cay… that explains the paddle board…  


We invited him over for dinner at Black Point the next evening, learning that he’d sailed on his dad’s catamaran for several extended periods before getting his own boat around 6 months ago to go cruising.   He is also a trained photographer and took this amazing photo of Reach on his iPhone no less!  


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That same evening other cruisers stopped by, Diego and Marina who is a journalist currently interviewing cruisers about climate change.  Although our time-frame of 8 years cruising covers just a fraction of a second of climate transition, she is researching collective, perceived changes and effects on cruisers and the countries that we visit.  For example, Mark and I have observed first-hand the world-wide reef bleaching events of 2010 and 2016 due to warm ocean temperatures.  We’ll be interested to hear more from Marina as she publishes on the topic… and of her new sailing adventures!




It it always great to meet cruisers… and their companions!  Fishbait is a charming, mellow kitten serving as crew on Miss Adventure.  Jonathon was hoping to gain some knowledge from our experience, yet in return we got the chance to see a refreshed view of cruising through his eyes.  We wish him all the best of luck in finding a new dinghy and outboard to continue his journey.









The last legs to the Ragged Islands were done in two day-hops. 




 The first from Black Point to Rocky Point, anchoring overnight behind Great Exuma, and the second down to the Raggeds.  




These banks are loosely charted and littered with coral heads, yet actual depths are deep enough (>20’), making this is an easier trip than it looks.







During our overnight in Rocky Point, we had a surprise reunion with Rolph, Silke and Kaye on Second Chance 42 on their way north from the Raggeds.  It was fun to visit them for a sundowner and catch up on their adventures of the past year traversing Canada by electric car (Tesla) ~ a first such achievement!






Exactly one week after leaving Florida, here we are in the Jumentos!




© M&M 2016