Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Back on Sabbatical

We are back aboard after a month long vacation from our vacation in New York. The result - Nicole and I both have teaching jobs that will bring us back to NYC in August. It was nice to be back for the month. I missed refrigeration, driving a car, having a variety of food and, most importantly, the permanent relationships with friends and family whose homes don’t move. The first few days were not easy adjusting to life back on the boat. We sacrifice the physical and emotional comfort we have on land for the chance to access pieces of the world that are impossible to see without your own boat and the freedom to decide where and what we will be doing tomorrow. There are also those moments of excitement, when you know there is no one who can help and you are surfing down 12 foot swells or get knocked down by a gust in a squall. Coming out alive on the other side provides a feeling of accomplishment that is uncommon in our lives on land. If money were not an issue we would have more of the comfort items on the boat and we could fly home often to see our friends and family. Alas, our funds are not unlimited so we will be back to start a new chapter of our lives and a new adventure on land.

After one night on the dock, we headed north to Hatchet bay which was well protected and had free (read poorly maintained) moorings in the harbor. We never made it to shore, and I started a routine of afternoon siestas. The change in temperature since we left is incredible. Daytime highs are always in the 90’s and sleeping requires a fan with no cover or sheet. It is unpleasant on deck during the afternoon hours.

From hatchet bay we sailed through the northern tip of Eluthera which is called current cut. The current can run at 5 knots so it is important to approach it at either end of a tide. I am glad Bob and Jane were able to help us out with our electronic charts, because navigating through that area would have been very difficult without a chart plotter. We stopped at Harbor Island which offers all around protection and the best jumping off point for the Abacos. Our cruising guide keeps referring to harbors in Eluthera and the Abacos as having clear, beautiful water. In my opinion the water in the Exumas was much clearer and a nicer blue. Since Cat Island the water has been a greener color, closer to the water you see in Miami.

We made the 50 mile jump from Harbor Island to Cherokee Point in The Abacos on Thursday. This passage took us off of the banks and into 4-6 seas on the Ocean. We were originally shooting for a 60 mile passage to Little Harbor, but time, wind, seas, and squalls had us opt for a shorter crossing to Cherokee Point. We saw numerous squalls around us, and the radar helped us figure out their track. We were caught in two small squalls with just a little rain and a third that had torrential rain with zero visibility and gusts to 35 knots. I was glad that I had reefed the jib to half its size seconds before the wind picked up.

Cherokee Point offers protection from the prevailing wind, but little else on shore. There is a small grocery store and colorful houses, but no restaurants around. Nicole and I hadn’t been able to reprovision since getting back to the boat. We had rice and corn for breakfast, lunch and dinner and all we were looking for was some food. We were very upset when we found the grocery store 5 minutes after it closed. We made sad faces in the window and the cashier showed us the same hospitality we have gotten to know in the Bahamas, allowing us to come in and get a few things.

The next day we motored into 15 knots of wind and large swells. We were trying to make 7 miles towards the cut in the reef at Little Harbor. An hour into the trip our engine began to surge and die – a symptom associated with the engine being starved of fuel. We were either running out of fuel, or our fuel filter had been clogged. I shut down the engine before it sucked in air, knowing this would require a difficult procedure to get it started again. I dumped in 5 extra gallons of diesel we carry on deck and I drained and primed the Racor fuel filter. The engine started up alright and we motored towards a narrow cut in the reef, but a half mile out the engine died. I thought about the sailor we met in Georgetown the wrecked his boat on a reef as he tried to restart his engine. I knew that we would have to sail in and worry about the engine later. I was a little nervous sailing in because the waves were breaking all around the boat, the wind was very light and didn’t know how the current was running. I put on my life jacket just in case, but we were able to make it in without any more problems. We spent the next two days anchored outside of little harbor checking fuel lines and changing filters – something I won’t miss in New York City. Being stuck in little harbor wasn’t all bad. We had two bonfires with G.R., Jessica and Gia who sail on SanSan. After our third day in Little harbor and too many meals at Pete’s Pub, we had a great sail to Marsh Harbor.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear from ya'll! NYC is exhilirating! At least if you're moving on land you're going to a great place.