Z E N I T U D E
Blue Water Dreaming
Beaufort, SC towards Turks and Caicos - Going East against the Trade Winds
Departing South Carolina - 4 December 2006
Back from our quick trip to Brazil and Argentina we are at John's house getting ready for our departure. We will spend this coming season in the Caribbean.
John will be helping us to take Zenitude all the way east to Turks and Caicos and for that we are checking everyday the weather maps, anxiously waiting for west winds. In the meantime Mary Ellen is helping us with shopping to provision Zenitude.
I'm going crazy trying to store it all in some kind of organized fashion. Zenitude has a lot of space, my problem is that things seem to have disappeared when I need them.
The day comes when we decide the wind is favorable and we depart, by early afternoon we are clearing the SC sea buoy and we are out in open seas, our plan is to do as much easting as possible early in the trip.
Change of Plans - Heading towards Bahamas - 5 to 8 December 2006
After 24 hours at sea we did 134 miles on an east course having our position at 31.54N-78.00W. The wind then turned ENE at 10 to 15 knots and we set our course a bit more to the SE heading now towards our destination.
On the third day at sea the wind turned completely to the east and forecast was not promising. We've done another 145 miles and we are at position 30.10N 76.15W. After a quick analysis and conference among the crew Captain Oscar decided we wouldn't be beating against the wind, we'd rather run South towards Bahamas, take it easy and try to beat a coming front. Bahamas being not such a bad destination after all.
The 4th day at sea was uneventful with the wind backing to the North and increasing as forecasted to 20 to 25. We completed another 160 miles, with our position at 27.26N-76.41W
Another 24 hours and we were arriving at Nassau while the weather kept deteriorating. We entered port with the wind blowing hard and made our way towards the anchorage happy with the decision to come here.
Anchoring in Nassau is complicated. The stormy weather did not help. There is not a lot of space and it is hard to keep out of the channel. When we thought we were finally well anchored, somebody in a dinghy comes to warn us we were in a dangerous spot. While we lift anchor to move again we can see why we shouldn't be there as a tug keeps coming our way and almost run over us. At the end we are almost happy with our new spot. It is blowing hard now, gusts reaching 30 knots and the anchor is holding.
Arriving in Nassau with the front
Finally at anchor in a reasonable spot
Nassau, Bahamas - Blowing 30 knots for days .... 8 to 13 December 2006
Zenitude ready at John's house
As soon as we were safely at anchor John asked Oscar to take him ashore. There was no way he would wait a little longer, he run straight to a favorite restaurant to have conch chowder! ........
We spent a week in Nassau while the wind was blowing hard. We did a bit of sight seeing and a bit of shopping. We were lucky to find a place with good prices to buy diving gear as we were in good need of diving suits.
We couldn't find internet but we did find public phones we could use to call the US. John was trying to make his travel arrangements to go back to US in time for Christmas from Turks and Caicos while we had no idea when we were going to get there. We didn't want to set a date but at the end we decided to let him book a flight from Provo, hoping the weather would let us get there on time.
By this time we had heard about the weather forecast service from Chris Parker and his site The Marine Weather Center. We decided to contract his services and as we don't have e-mail on board we just hired his SSB services. Unfortunately during our time at anchor in Nassau the reception was dreadful and we couldn't get much out of him.
Allen's Cay - The Exumas - Bahamas - Feeding the Iguanas - 13 December 2006 - (24.44N-76.50W)
The wind finally subsided a little bit and we decided to keep going SE with a couple of stops in the Exumas. John had been there before with his sailing boat 'Malandro' and as we don't have a cruising guide for the Bahamas we are trusting his knowledge.
We had an unpleasant surprise when we started lifting the anchor. The anchor wouldn't release and the electric winch died. John was sure the safety switch pulled, something was wrong. At this time we realized we had no idea where the safety switch for the winch was, after a bit of following cables and a bit of guess work Oscar found it. It was a relieve to find it and soon our winch was working again, but the anchor was stuck, somewhere in the bottom. There was no other option but for Oscar to go diving and check it out.
Oscar didn't like what he saw. No wonder we hadn't dragged with all that wind. To release it I had to drive Zenitude ahead with the engines to give some slack to the chain, Oscar in the water would attempt the release while John on deck would direct me ahead without running over Oscar. The main danger in all this was for Oscar to get trapped with the chain, fortunately all worked out well and we were finally free. In retrospective, the right thing to do would have been to call a professional diver with scuba diving equipment, which Oscar didn't have.
Departing Nassau - Dangerously fouled anchor chain - 13 December 2006
The only inhabitants on Allen's Cay are the iguanas and we were soon on our dinghy to visit "Iguana Island", a little island where the iguanas come running to you as soon as you start walking on the beach. Obviously they are used to people bringing food for them.
Underway again we found ENE 20 to 25 knots of wind. It took about 6 hours to make the 34 miles to Allen's Cay and early afternoon we were anchored in a beautiful area.
The iguanas of Allen's Cay
Zenitude at anchor, Allen's Cay
Staniel Cay - The Exumas - Bahamas - Feeling inside a James Bond film - 14 December 2006 - (24.10N-76.27W)
We keep going thru the Exumas and 50 miles later we are anchoring at Staniel Cay. This cay is famous because of Thunderball Grotto, an outstanding snorkeling attraction. This hollowed out rock has been the location for the James Bond movie Thunderball and you can snorkel inside this cave that looks like a natural fishbowl. So that's where we head with our dinghy and our snorkel gear.
The best time to be there is at slack low tide when you can get in the cave quite easily. We were surprised at how small the cave is as it looks huge in James Bond movie, specially the take where you can see the helicopter thru the cave hole up on the sky. We enjoyed snorkeling among the many varieties of colorful fish, corals, sponges and other sea life. Amazing was to gaze up and see the skies when inside the cave. You can see the light streaming through the roof where rain has eroded and formed a natural skylight. As we were getting out of the cave the James Bond Tour's dinghy arrived with all people dressed at character, a funny sight to end our little tour.
Thunderball and the adjacent two islands are protected by the Bahamas National Trust.
Thunderball in Staniel Cay
At night the wind increased and turned ESE. It was blowing 20 to 25 knots and we were afraid our anchor would drag. The anchorage has no protection and we did not feel comfortable either way, either staying or re-anchoring. At the end we stayed. Our transom was not too far from a wall of rocks but the night was pitch dark to look for another anchoring spot. It was a good decision as the holding was good and we didn't drag.
Thunderball Marina and Restaurant
Bahamas to Turks and Caicos - Arriving to our original destination - 15 to 17 December 2006 - (21.44.5N-72.17.2W)
The wind finally subsided and the last night at the Bahamas was a beautiful one. We left mid morning after our snorkeling expedition to Thunderball with calm seas and winds ESE 10 to 15. Slowly the wind backed east and almost died and we were happily going east towards our destination in calm weather. On the second day at about 9:00AM we arrived at Sapodilla Bay. It was good to do the last part of the trip in calm weather and to have good light as the entrance to Sapodilla Bay is surrounded by reef. We found a very wide bay with plenty of anchorage space, a very beautiful place indeed.
Turks and Caicos, check it by clicking next