Friday, April 10, 2009


(Double-click on the photo if you want to get wet)
Finally there was a weather window to escape the clutches of Florida and at 10pm, Saturday night up came the anchor and out we shot into the Gulf Stream at West Palm Beach. This Gulf Stream runs solid all the way past Ireland to France and Portugal so we needed to steer some 50 degrees to the south in order to inch our way across. 5.6 knots sideways for 2.5 knots forward or face the Irish. By 10am Sunday morning, we crossed the Bahama bank into shallow waters. From 700 feet deep to 12 feet. Motored for the rest of Sunday and most of Monday to arrive at Great Sale Cay and then the worst of the cold front crossing South-eastern United States hit us. For two and a half days we rode out the weather with winds never less than twenty knots and reaching to 33 knots during the nights, in an anchorage with no protection. We knew it was coming, but to have waited in West Palm Beach would have meant another week. Throughout the near gale only one yacht "ISLAND TIME" dragged its anchor and "TREEHOUSE" the yacht in the foreground lost its dinghy which we subsequently retrieved from the rocks, not too much the worse for wear. When the winds finally died down, all of us did some serious beach exploration.

Great sale Cay is a totally uninhabited island made of old raised coral beds and no more than 3 feet (1m) above high tide. Vegetation eeks out a living in the cracks where moisture accumulates and on the edges there are mangroves. Some casuarina trees have grown on the beachfront presumably from seeds blown ashore. We looked for "WILSON" but never found him though we did find his "seahorse". The shallows abounded with bonefish.

We motor-sailed on Thursday morning, "ARITA", "SVEA", "TREEHOUSE" and "ISLAND TIME" in convoy to Green Turtle Island, one of the well-established family islands in the ABACO group of the BAHAMAS. These islands have been settled since 1492 ( Meaning by others who didn't live there) Farmers, plunderers, pirates, politicians, they have had them all. The history is a little too colourful for comfort. Oh.... and an 8 lb Red Snapper decided to jump on board. What a wonderful dinner for all eight of us in the convoy. Much, much more important was that during the long motoring we were able to make 110 gallons of beautiful fresh water..... For those not familiar with this process it works like this. Take a large tube with multiple layers of fabric, tightly wound. Push salt water from the inside out with a pressure of 700 psi. That's about one whole elephant with all legs in the air balancing on a 20c piece like a ballerina. The result is the water minus the salt gets squeezed out. On ARITA we have this contraption, which runs off the engine (no Elephants) and it produces a beautiful 15 gallons of fresh water per hour. Ask any sailor and they will tell you.... that's AWESOME.

So here's a new twist on going to the movies and getting your dose of popcorn. You need a golfcart, you need to bring your own chair, you will be sitting on some pretty rough ground in the open air, but you will be dancing to "MAMMA MIA". I wonder if Meryl Streep knows about this.

Green Turtle Island has had an incredible history as the first place of settlement by the loyalists after the American Independence Revolution. In a little remembrance park there are many bronze busts of famous contributing citizens bearing the same surname. These sculptures have all been produced in Little Harbor, further down the ABACOS, which is a story in itself. Found a "potcake" puppy, a beautiful frangipani and some seagulls came by to say hello and drop off a little something for us. Then there's the crew of "TREEHOUSE" and "SVEA" going ashore.


robin said...

Finally in the islands. Glad to see you made it over. All is well on the mainland. Enjoy the sandy beaches.

Remy Jane and kids said...

Well Done! Back from Easter holidays camping but now away teaching for the next week.

LIZ said...

Hi Rob and Lauren, Judy Hinton forwarded your blog and it is a treat to read your writing. It all sounds great adn exciting! Good luck, good weather adn good health! Liz Gesenhues from the Alexandria Condo

Orpailleur said...

Can be pretty bad if the wind blows into Gt.Sale. Green Turtle is very nice and should make up for the rough night. Sundancer is in West End and knows where you are so might catch up.

sir tommy said...

Greenturtle has a great liquor store on the other end of the island..How come we haven't mentioned the rum? Also more pictures of the water are needed.This is only to feed my appetite. I need more coffee in the morning shots.. people can I get some cooperation here? Oh by the way I am glad to see you are safe and sound. tom