We took off from Morgans Bluff this morning. Only having to run the motor just enough to get out of the entrance channel as the wind was dead ahead. We sailed off slowly in the light winds. We were then visited by the first of 3 rain cells. The first passed almost overhead and boosted the light breeze about 5 knots. The second passed to the east of us and barely raised the breeze at all. The third and largest passed behind us and then to the west not giving us an increase at all. The cell went toward the Joulter Cays and just hung out for hours.
Once we made it to the North West Channel our light wind broad reach became a dead down wind passage. With the sails out wing and wing, crawling at 2.5 knots. The third cell still hanging around the Joulter Cays off toward port. It was now just pass noon and the cell was starting to move with us. It was much darker than when it passed earlier or perhaps this was actually cell number 4. Over the next few hours the wind steadily built finally making us hit 4.5 knots. The wind farther out must have been much higher as the waves were growing faster than the wind. By the time sunset came and went we were riding pretty big waves for the bank and the wind was yet to catch up. Every time a big wave would out run us we would go up and slide down the other side as Gemini Dreams flipped the dice as to which side she would settle on. With out a preventer rigged it was hard to keep the boom on the correct side. After about an hour of this in the darkness and two accidental jibes we decided to anchor for the night and ride out the weather. We were 7 miles east of Mackie Shoal. After all it couldn't be any worse than the time in Nixon Bay.
Traveling in a Vega with a hard dinghy on deck, especially on with a RID kit, leaves little room for work. To anchor I have to clip on the harness, untie the bow of the dinghy, lift it up on my shoulder and release the anchor and chain while crouched down mostly underneath the dinghy. (I have since made a secondary plan for anchoring with the dinghy on board. I will keep the Fortress ready to deploy.) After getting all this done and making it back to the cockpit the wind was finally catching up to the waves. At this point I decided it would be better to secure the dinghy bow again as I would hate for the wind to pick it up. With the dinghy secured I realized we were not pointing into the wind. Is the tide really so strong here that 20+ knots will not keep the boat pointed? With all the physical exertion the smell of the Fisher Kings shell collection (a couple in a mesh bag on the side deck) really hit the Earl button. It was at this time popped his head out the hatch and said “You want a Bonine?” I must have been alien green or something. But I didn't hesitate even with as much as I hate the side effects.
Here comes the rain and lightening. We are anchored and hooked up so I went down below to try and stay dry. Good thing we had been able to cook while underway or we would have starved tonight! I crashed into the starboard settee as Tin slept in the port. The lightening increased rapidly as I went over the “stike” plan in my head. “Plugs are in the cubby, turn off all breakers I could and still leave the nav and anchor lights on, the abandon ship bag, the first aid box, a knife to cut the dinghy free, and on and on.” “Wow I'm tired”, oh I took a Bonine. Okay time for some sleep because Bonine makes me a zombie.
Rocka, rocka, bang, bang! Okay I'm AWAKE! What was that? Oh a bottle in the hanging basket. Forget it go to sleep! Rocka, Rocka, flick, scrape! Okay I'm AWAKE! FLASH! What was that? BOOM! Still zombied in the settee I realize it is the Rocker Stoppers that should be in the water helping out! It is raining like mad, lightening all around, thunder clapping, I'm not going out to put them in, go back to sleep! Rocka, rocka, boom bang! FLASH! Okay I'm AWAKE! BOOM! What was that? Lying here waiting for it again so I can decide. I fall asleep waiting. Rocka, rocka, boom bang! Anchor! The chain is jerking tight! Damn I didn't set the snubber or it came off one. I try to evaluate the extent of possible damage. We survived Nixon with only a broken cleat more or less and this is not as bad or as big. Go back to sleep! Rocka, boom bang, rocka, shake, rocka, bang, bang, rocka, flick, scrape, rocka, rocka, bang, ting, ting, shaka, shaka. Go back to sleep! Whistle whirl, whistle. What is that? The wind is bad well over 40 knots! Check anchor alarm, all is good, go back to sleep. FLASH! FLASH! FLASH! BOOM! Grumble! BOOM! Wow! It seems calm below now other than the wind noise. (We are finally pointing into the wind) Check bilge to see if we are taking on water, all good. FLASH, BOOM, WHIR! Go back to sleep! Rocka, Rocka, bang, bang! Damn we are side saddle to the waves again! Go back to sleep! Wake up sleep, wake up sleep, wake up sleep repeat every few minutes!
Dawn came after about 10,000 night mares! The boat was safe but everything that could be in a state of disarray was. We relaunched the dinghy to get it out of the way for retrieving the anchor. We are now towing the dinghy again. The sky was still dark gray especially to the south. With the threat of another round of weather coming down on us I reefed the mainsail and only rolled out part of the genoa. Off we went at a whopping 2.5 knots! Damn I want to go to full sails but with impending doom on the horizon we don't dare. Man I'm tired! No sleep and Bonine, a perfect mixture for a zombie day. After finally passing Mackie Shoal I went to full sails and headed off toward Bimini. I was now hoping for more wind as the sail was slow. About 4 miles out of the North East anchorage I powered up the motor to guarantee we made it by sunset and could have dinner while it was light out. We dropped anchor in the turtle grass and made rosemary garlic parmesan chicken with potatoes and corn.