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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Great Sale Cay, Northwest Harbour

Woo hoo, we are here!! I think Myron did a great job timing the weather window. Crossing the Gulf Stream during the daylight hours gave an opportunity for fishing. He pulled in a juvenile feisty bull Mahi. To our dismay, he also caught in a black plastic trash bag. Our pace was slower than we had hoped which put us at the Matanilla Shoal waypoint after sundown. Still that was an easier approach in pitch dark than exiting St. Lucie's in daylight. I told Myron I really never want to do that inlet again, ever. We were surrounded by all kinds and sizes of fishing boats with fishermen that had been locked down due to weather. These guys were seriously itching to get on the stream. That gung ho convoy of vessels was actually helpful in identifying the channel. I want to note that the inlet is not charted due to its continuous change and shoaling, there is discussion of ceasing to maintain it due to the cost. The inlet was worked up which can make our depth sounder reluctant to give us a reading. I kept running the inlet with the last reading flashing at 13 feet, when suddenly our shallow depth warning went off and the sounder read 3.5 feet. I was sure we were going aground, no matter which way I turned it seemed nothing improved. We were followed by a trawler and he matched my erratic moves, probably assuming that if a sailboat could make it, he could too. We made it, and I think it was by the grace of God.
It was a pleasant crossing. The winds were light, 10 knots or less, out of the ESE. We motor sailed with jib and full main. As the wind lightened, we reefed the main to keep it from flogging itself. The jib was reefed and sheeted inside the rigging. Before sundown the winds increased and turned more SE, which improved our speed. At one point, we had 40 degrees correction on the helm to maintain course against the stream. On my watch, the compass typically read 120 degrees and our actual heading per the GPS was 85 degrees. You have got to respect the stream!
After we crossed onto the banks, the swell quieted down substantially and the winds lessened further. We went through patches of fog and had to put the sails away as they became more of a hindrance than help. We took diver Paul's advice and worked our way about 20 miles onto the banks and found a 15-16 foot shoal to set anchor and wait for sunrise. We did not go to bed right away because we were so taken by the vastness of the stars, the Milky Way and the planets. Jupiter gave a reflection on the water that reached right to Hold Fast.
A hot shower, a couple hours of sleep and we were back in route to Great Sale Cay. It was absolutely peaceful on the banks. Myron put some lines in the water but all we caught was floating grass. We dropped anchor here about 1 pm, settled in and had a tasty meal of that juvenile Mahi with rice and asparagus. That meal is about to be topped off with Hershey kisses that Shari and Paul brought us from China. Dessert treats from China consumed in the Bahamas, who knew? We are figuring out where we want to head and when. The 'plan' is to work our way to Green Turtle Cay to check in. For now though, I am going outside to enjoy this most incredibly gorgeous day!
Love to all,

Posted via Ham radio.
{GMST}26|58.732|N|078|13.079|W|Anchored|Great Sale Cay{GEND}

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