Working Our Way North

25 March 2019   Elizabeth Island, Exumas
I find the weather in this region so frustrating.  I set the alarm last night and was up at the crack of dawn to look at the weather, only to find it still miserable with scudding clouds and a bit of rain. The forecast is for the east wind to drop this afternoon and then tomorrow there should be blues skies and very light winds.  We either go in the rain and wind today, or motor in sunshine tomorrow.  I went back to bed.

The skies cleared and the wind dropped a little during the morning, so after lunch, we motored over to anchor off Chat & Chill beach and dinghied over to Georgetown to buy some provisions.  The weather remained clear into the evening, so we’re hoping to leave tomorrow.  

And another front approaches

26 March 2019   Elizabeth Island to Black Point, Exumas
We were up at the crack of dawn and (finally) motored out of Chicken Harbour in blue skies and hardly any wind.  With 60 miles to go to Black Point, we didn’t have time to drift along in the 5 knot north-east wind, so we motor-sailed all day.

At 16:45, we arrived at the Dotham Cut where we encountered very turbulent water outside the pass caused by a strong outflowing current of 3 knots.  Low tide at Georgetown was at 17:30, so I think that the actual tide here is one hour later than the tide at Georgetown.  When we leave here we expect to have a fairly strong ENE wind, so we want to make sure that we leave at slack water otherwise there might be nasty over-falls in the pass, especially if the wind is against the current.

Once through the pass, we negotiated the shallow water, going past the crowded anchorage at Black Point settlement to an anchorage a mile further south.  We anchored at 24°04.82N 076°23.36W in 4 metres depth on fabulous white sand – it’s a lovely anchorage with two white sand beaches and best of all only five boats.  

27 March 2019   Black Point, Exumas
The weather is totally dominating our lives in the Bahamas.  Today’s forecast showed the next front arriving overnight as expected.  The wind will veer to the west at 10 knots and then overnight to the north-west.  By tomorrow night, we’ll have north winds and the following day strong north-east winds, which will last two days.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to move again on Saturday, 30th.

We had yet another review of our plans.  Originally, we were going to head west from Highbourne Cay across the shallows and then sail for two nights up the Tongue of the Ocean to Florida.  However, the gaps between the fronts are too short to give us that big a window, so we’re now going to sail Highbourne Cay across the Yellow Bank to Nassau, where hopefully we can anchor and shelter for a few days if another front develops sooner than expected. 

Walking at Black Point

It was a lovely calm and sunny morning, so we went snorkelling.  We scooted a mile or so south along to a nice little beach called Jack’s Bay, but there weren’t any obvious places to snorkel.  On the way back, I spotted the dark shape of a bommie, so we stopped for a look.  It turned out to be surprisingly good, with a large number of rocky coral heads.  There wasn’t much coral, but there were a huge number of fish and conch.

As the day grew, the wind picked up from the south at 10-12 knots.  The anchorage that we are in is well protected from the north-west through to the east, but very exposed to the south and west.  By 15:00, we had 15 knot winds from the south-west, raising 2 foot wind waves which made all the boats in the anchorage pitch violently.  It wasn’t pleasant, but all we could do was “suck-it-up” and hope that the wind veered to the north-west as forecast.

28 March 2019   Black Point, Exumas
At 02:00, the motion was still quite violent, so I got up to check that we hadn’t dragged our anchor.  The wind was still coming from the west and we were still in the same place, so I went back to bed to try to sleep. 

The motion was better when we woke at 07:30.  The wind had finally veered to north-west, but a small swell was still coming from the west. The good news was that the forecast shows the wind slowly clocking around to the north-east, so our lives will get better.

We hung about for the morning waiting for the wind to veer a bit more an then walked a couple of miles to Black Point Settlement.  There’s not much there a few small grocery stores and some bars.  A mail boat had just arrived, which was the first for ten days, so most of the locals were collecting and transporting their stuff away.  We managed to buy some fresh brown sliced bread which was an unexpected bonus.

In the evening we invited Olivier, Anny and their 5 year old daughter, Lily from “Deesee” over for a few beers.  They kindly brought us a bottle of Gewürztraminer, which they’d brought all the way from Europe.  Bizarrely, we spent a lot of time talking about skiing..