We utilized the westward wind that was blowing the day before departure to move from Bimini Blue Water Marina to the NE side of the island. Here we anchored for the night as the wind clocke to the NW and allowed s/v Liberty a taste of things to come.
We pulled the anchor and were off before 7am with out enough wind to fill the sails. As we motored SE toward Mackie Shoal the wind finally arrived allowing us to motor sail. As we passed Mackie Shoal the wind had slowly increased and we were motor sailing at 6 knts. We maintained this speed all the way until the Northwest Shoal. Here we discussed the anchorage for the evening but the wind continued to build slowly. We decided that since the North wind had increased steadily to 15 knots we would rather make way and head on to Morgans Bluff.
As we rounded the NW Channel Marker and turned 20 degrees more south we expected the wind to be more to the stearn. However as things go the wind changed to ENE at the same time. The combination of lagging waves, The new wind direction complete with gusting and our route made for a very hard to balance boat. Every gust whe wanted to helm up into the wind and the autopilot just couldn't keep up due to it's overall reach. It would spend too much time maxed out during the gusts and kept walking us toward New Providence instead. No combination of the main and genny would balance us but yet keep that wonderful 6 knts. I could drop the speed and spend another hour on our way to Morgans or 86 the auto pilot and take over. So here I was on the plus side of 6 knts hoping to be at Morgans channel in about two and a half hours.
About two hours into the journey about 3 miles out of the channel the gusts had subsided and the autopilot had taken over once again. The toll of 14 hours had settled in and I relaxed in the cockpit lying back agains a dry bag and the mandated type 4. I was just trying to relax some not get any sleep as I knew there would be no problems finding Morgans Channel but entering in the NE wind and big waves would not be fun. There was also the possibility of hitting the marker bouys if any still existed. I wasn't afraid of the reef or bluff but those unlighted marker balls!
So here I was lying back with one hand holding me into the windward setee and one hand holding my jacket tail closed to stay warm and then it happened.