Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
Bahamas to Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. - Cruising along The Bahamas
Rum Cay - 02 to 05 June 2009 (23.38.78N-74.50.99W)
This remote and sparsely populated island is surrounded by deep reef. We entered the anchorage very carefully following Bruce Van Saint guide and anchored in front of a white sandy beach. There is a little bit of protection from the swell due to the surrounding reef but not much protection from the east winds.
It is a great island to stop before sailing to Mayaguana, the Turks and Caicos, or before returning to Georgetown and points north. The only settlement, Port Nelson, is the capital and harbor. There is a marina, Sumner Point Marina that provides dockage, moorings, bar and restaurant. The marina is secluded and hard to see from the anchorage.
Amazingly we found internet here. It seems that remote areas are good for internet as security is not set up. Probably because there is not many people pinching free internet.
We spent 3 days resting and doing some boat tasks, waiting for weather to improve. It is pretty windy and squally all the time and we are waiting for a better weather to go ashore. Finally we decide we'll go anyway to visit the place but it is impossible to put the outboard on the dinghy. It is very choppy and we decide to stay on board.
The forecast is not very promising. There is a low forming in Jamaica and we are concerned it could be coming this way. We decide to leave and go directly to the Northern Exumas. We haven't actually made up our minds on which way we would cross the Bahamas on our way to the US. There are several options and it is hard to decide. We would love to stay here longer and enjoy some time exploring but hurricane season is fast approaching. We've been to some of the Exumas islands before and decide to stop in different islands this time. Then we'll see which way to go from there.
Rum Cay, sandy beaches and lots of wind
Highborne Cay - 06 to 08 June 2009 (24.42.61N-76.49.58W)
Under an overcast sky and with a forecast of heavy wind squalls we left Rum Cay at around noon. Not the best of the forecasts for sailing but there was not a good outlook anyway for the near future. We have about 130 miles to go, an overnight passage.
There were not many squalls during the night. It was just scary to see lightning all the time to the west, it seemed like we were going to meet with the thunders. On Oscar's watch the lightening got closer and he decided to change course to avoid it. It cost us some extra motoring but as it passed nearby to our starboard side we got a taste of the wind in this huge squall. It must have been really bad inside but we'll never know, better that way.
The cut to get inside the Exumas got us completely confused, we did not read the paper chart correctly and almost got into trouble but finally we made it safely to the other side. I guess we are not used to reading paper charts and our electronic charts were not giving us enough details in the cut.
What a beautiful anchorage is this one, although anchoring was pretty weird with absolutely no wind and the current taking over. Zenitude is drifting with the anchor behind but at least the holding is pretty good.
Highborne Cay, amazing Bahamas waters and white sand beaches
Booby Cay - 08 June 2009 (25.09.53N-77.03.66W)
Continuing along the Exumas we are now close to Nassau.
Instead of trying to anchor in the limited anchoring places that Nassau offers we came to Booby Cay, an uninhabited island with an anchoring area shown in the chart.
We found a pretty good anchorage for an overnight as an alternative to anchoring in Nassau. It is a very quiet place and not much to do, except to adventure around with the snorkel. Which we didn't do in the squally weather.
After spending a quiet night we left early morning to keep going towards Chub Cay, 49 miles ahead.
Chubb Cay - 09 June 2009 (25.24.66N-77.54.45W)
What an amazing place. The anchorage is small but it is not busy this time of the year.
Most of the boats here are coming from Florida and going east, regardless of the approach of hurricane season, as opposed to us that are going towards Florida to get away from dangerous latitudes.
We've been given a lot of thinking and consideration to our route and decided we will cross the Grand Bahamas Bank.
Crossing the banks is creating some anxiety as we do not have a cruising guide for that part of the trip and could not get as much information as we would like to have.
Chubb Cay - We regret not having more time to spend in the Bahamas
The Grand Bahamas Bank - 10 to 11 June 2009 (25.26.15N-78.52.92W)
We left Chubb Cay in the morning and made about 55 miles in the Bahamas Grand Bank. As we cross along the Banks there is absolutely no wind, it looks like a lake, a wonder to be surrounded by such a big expanse of turquoise transparent water. Most of the time the depth is just about 3 meters deep and we can see the sandy bottom with all details and hundreds of star fish and conch. Really an extraordinary experience.
At around 7.00 PM nightfall comes and it is another extraordinary experience to get out of the main channel and anchor in 3 meters of water, just about anywhere. We spend a very quiet night, leave several lights on, just in case a boat would travel at night outside the channel. (we have seen so few boats all day that it is highly improvable somebody will come towards were we are at anchor).
The next morning we saw several nursing sharks around. Oscar went for a swim in the clear calm waters and before noon we left to join the main channel again and complete the Grand Banks crossing.
Cat Cay - 11 to 12 June 2009 (25.32.23N-79.16.47W)
The Cat Cays are two islands in the Bahamas, North Cat Cay and South Cat Cay, approximately 10 miles south of Bimini and they are about 60 miles from the US Florida coast. We arrived late afternoon and tried several anchorages finally deciding for a wide anchorage in South Cat Cay that was easy to leave during the night.
The recommendation to cross to Florida from here is to leave during the calms at night, set a course south of destination to compensate for the strong Gulf Stream current and arrive to Florida early afternoon before the almost daily thunderstorms that are common in the late afternoon hours this time of the year.
We enjoyed a bit of swimming and Oscar went spear fishing to get dinner.
This is another beautiful island where we could stay for several days but the weather is good for the crossing and we get ready to leave for the final leg.
North Cat Cay - Oscar spear fishing
Entering the Grand Bahama Bank
Arriving at Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. USA - 12 June 2009 (26.06.89N-80.07.53W)
At 3.30 AM we left as recommended. It was a very peaceful motoring trip.
In the morning the Gulf Stream next to Florida was full of yachts large and small, all of them fishing. Oscar was hoping to get a good mahi-mahi in the warm Gulf Stream waters but it didn't happen.
Boats go up and down the current when fishing, we were going across, it might have made all the difference. We crossed a fishing boat and we could see them getting lots of fish, nothing for us. Unfair!
Crossing the Gulf Stream. Like a lake but no fish
Ft. Lauderdale ahead
Inside ICW, arriving at Ft. Lauderdale
We ended up talking to some of the boats that just crossed it and they assure us that there is no problems following the navigation marks and going along the main channel. Everybody says it is all right to stop for the night anywhere in the banks away from the main channels. This is what we are planning to do and the weather for the next couple of days seems perfect, motoring all the way. These are very shallow waters and we rather motor than get lots of wind in a shallow choppy sea.
Finally we can see a line of tall buildings and the characteristic chimneys in Fort Lauderdale. Soon after that we were entering the ICW in Port Everglades to pick up a mooring in Ft Lauderdale city marina.