Phone does it's thing at 4am and I just hit it and go to sleep. At 4:15 it does it again. Persistent damn phone. I get up and check outside. Just like it sounded 25 knots instead of 10-15 as forecast. I turn off the 4:30 alarm and go back to sleep. Then around 6:30 I actually get up and still only two boats are leaving one east and one west. I lay down as it is still more windy than predicted. At 8:00 I get up and move to Rock Harbor to get ice and breakfast. Once back on board we head out toward the reef, WITH A LATE START.
We had been checking the weather and there was a 3+ day weather window to make the Bahamas.
Wednesday 10-15 E
Thursday 10-15 ESE
Friday 10-15 SE
Saturday 5-10 random
Sunday 30 N
Monday 30 N
Earlier in the week it was a 4 day window a sign of things to come.
There were 6-7 footers at the reef due to the rise from the ocean floor to only 12 feet deep. If we would have encountered these at 5am as planned, in the dark, with 20+ knots we would have waited for another window. (over a week away!) I asked the first mate if he wanted to press on or wait a week. “PRESS ON!” So into the wall of sea we went. About 3 miles on the outside of the reef the waves started leveling out to 4 foot, then as we got to the stream all is comfortable. The seas are as forecast 3 foot with mostly less. The seas are slightly confused but made for a flatter ride. About every 12 minutes we would hit the plus wave. The wave where the current and the cross wind added and seemed to be 3 feet or more higher than all the other waves for the next 12 minutes. About one in 5 of these Gemini Dreams thought she would do a Pirouette and start to turn on her toes. But within a couple moments was back to tracking straight ahead. I do wish the autopilot was faster to correct courses!
This and one lone sailboat about 4 miles behind us all day were our only encounters
The Fisher King Asleep at the helm
In reality the sail in the stream was great for a first time. Once we were on course about 4 miles from the reef the autopilot was set. Then hours later I added two degrees. Several hours after the first adjustment I added two more degrees and we were within a mile directly off Nixon Harbor before the stream let go and we were heading more south, fast. Our plan “A” was to spend a night in Bimini a Blue Water resort as referred by Espin on s/v Mini Pearl. But we had to get there during daylight
Sunset a couple hours outside Bimini
Plan “B” was to spend the night in Nixon Harbor (the reason for the second autopilot adjustment) if it was after dark when we arrived. Nixon Harbor is open with an easy entry and you would have to make a big mistake to end up on the rocks here. Little did we know the penalty for spending the night here. When we arrived there was a boat fishing at the entrance. With such a wide space this was no problem as we circled around behind them trying to translate the paper Charts to what we were seeing on the chart plotter. Knowing one thing while looking at another is definitely a time to triple check. And just for reference when you come in during the dark an think you are going to the right spot to anchor look out for the channel marker poles! We actually dropped the hook and turn around to find us only 100 feet from what looks like a telephone pole sticking out of the water without enough marking to see it. Now that we know they are there it's easy and they are marked but after hours across and hoping just to set the hook, beware.
Ahhhhhh! We are in the Bahamas! Check in tomorrow and go from there.