Friday, February 24, 2017

Lake Worth to West End - 2017

--Blogpost written by Bob

Lake Worth, Another Day

Due to the high winds, we stayed another day at anchor in Lake Worth.  Most of the day was spent reading and occasionally napping in preparation for our upcoming gulf stream crossing.

The Lake Worth anchorage on the evening of February 21.
This was a view looking away from the sunset.

From our anchorage in Lake Worth, this view at sunset shows
the heavy industry along the waterfront.

At midnight on February 21 we made the decision not to depart
from Lake Worth because of the heavy winds we were
experiencing out of the east--the trip would have
been a real slog!  It was a good decision.

Lake Worth to West End, Grand Bahama

On February 23 at about 2:30 AM we departed from Lake Worth inlet in the dark.  The departure was by instruments only.  It was particularly harrowing when exiting through the rock-lined inlet at Lake Worth and hearing the waves crash onto the beach on either side of us and not be able to see them.

The light from the chart plotter (the brightness still set for daytime use) was blinding during the darkness.  The autopilot and other instruments were backlit with an amber-colored light that was easy to use at night.  (I didn't figure out how to reduce the brightness of the chart plotter until a day later.)

Shortly after getting through the end of the dredged ship channel, the depth sounder got stuck on its last reading of 528 feet.  Most of the day, it was simply flashing as we traversed through ocean depths greater than 2000 feet and it wasn't able to measure depths this great.

The air temperature was cool--in the low 60's.  We wore sweatshirts under our inflatable offshore life vests and still struggled to stay warm before sunrise.

At about 6:30 AM the sky lightened in the east through some low-lying clouds.  The sunlight reflected off the bottoms of nearby clouds before the sun finally broke through.  We felt the warmth of the sun after it successfully burned through the cloud cover.

All the previous day we had been assured by our various weather apps, that the wind would be approximately 5 mph out of the west the entire night and through sunrise into the next morning--a perfect prediction for our Gulf Stream crossing. However, Mother Nature had other ideas--the wind was blowing out of the WSW between 10 and 18 mph throughout our entire Gulf Stream crossing.  The wind at an angle to our backs which caused the boat to squirm with each passing wave.  The autopilot was constantly working to keep us on course and it took a major and sustained effort to just keep our balance on the boat.  Maggie ended up "feeding the fish" a couple times (she vomited into the ocean due to her sea sickness--I know, not a pleasant sight nor a pleasant experience for her.  We later termed her condition as "acutely PUKE-I-FIED.")

After sunrise we watched schools of flying fish skim along the surface of the indigo-colored ocean.  At times, they could not get launched into the heavy seas and they just looked like a splashes from a golf ball-sized hail storm.

After 10 hours of struggling with the following sea we approached West End in the Bahamas.  I was concerned about entering the marina inlet which faced the oncoming waves.  As we approached the inlet to West End the waves crashed onto the rocks on both sides of the jetty.  As we entered between the two rock-lined jetties and into a turning basin (which was carved out of the limestone bedrock) the water calmed.  By VHF radio, the marina directed us into slip C-19 and met us there to help us get securely tied up.

Rainy Days is tied up in slip #C-19 waiting to clear customs
and immigration.  Yes, the water is really that blue!

We cleared Customs and Immigration located in this pink building
next to the marina.  It was relatively quick and easy
after completing about a dozen forms.

After completing a dozen or so immigration forms clearing onto
the Bahamas, we lowered our yellow quarantine flag
and raised our Bahamas courtesy flag
on our starboard spreader.

After clearing customs and immigration (and paying our $300), we ate lunch at the very casual on-site restaurant.  We both had Kalik beer and "West End Conch Burgers" and the combination was absolutely delicious!

Our first lunch ion the Bahamas included drinking the
local beer, Kalik, and eating conch burgers.

As I sit here on board tonight putting the last touches on today's blogpost, every muscle in my body aches.  I feel some sunburn on my face and relish in the lack of boat motion.  We'll (gladly) stay here 2 nights and get some much needed rest.  (By the way, the slips cost only $1 per foot of boat length--it costs us $38 per night.  We paid almost as much for a mooring in Annapolis last summer.)

We ended the day by drinking a bottle of champagne to celebrate our successful gulf stream crossing.

West End

Today, February 24, is our first full day in the Bahamas, starting our 3-month long stint in the Abacos.  We decided that while our destinations in the Abacos are pretty well defined, we would take our time, staying at each destination as long as we like, and, at all times, consider the weather for travel days.  

Twenty five years ago, when I departed from West End on my first trip to/from the Bahamas, the Jack Tar Marina was on its last legs.  The place was decaying.  I understand it was completely demolished around the year 2000.  Now, the Old Bahama Bay Resort and Yacht Harbor has taken the place of the old Jack Tar Marina.  The casuarina trees that once separated the Jack Tar Marina from the ocean are gone.  Everything is new.  Now, there are individually-owned but facility-managed rental units (colorful 2-story water-front apartments), a couple exclusive home sites, a large pool, restaurants, and a well-designed marina.  A lot of damage was incurred as the eye of Hurricane Matthew came over West End.  The marina's electrical system is currently being replaced as result of the extensive hurricane damage.

The new facility at West End called Old Bahama Bay Resort & Yacht 
Harbor includes individually-owned rental units (in the 
background of this image) that are 
managed by the complex.

Maggie tests the water on the beach north of the marina.

This inviting beach area on the north end of the marina is
shared by marina guests and land lubber guests
staying in the rental apartments.

As we were having breakfast this morning at the on-site casual restaurant, we made a decision that we would "eat out" no more than once per day while in the Bahamas, mostly to conserve money.  Later, we walked on the beach and took lots of pictures.

We came across the beautiful (but crooked) palm tree
along the beach, not far from the marina.

We came back to the Tiki Bar and were tempted to imbibe at 11 AM when it just opened.  We had a nice discussion with "Harold" who had a very positive attitude about "his" island.  He told us about some of the tasty dishes at Ella's Take Out in the settlement.  As we borrowed two of the marina's bikes to go into the settlement, we changed our rules about "eating out" to average once per day, knowing that we will be anchored out on many remote cays in the future without opportunities to "eat out."  So, now our rule change also allowed us to borrow days from the future to compute our average of once per day.  Is this an example of the self discipline we will have while in the Bahamas?  Our 3-month stint in the Abacos may be very costly.

Someone at Ella's Take Out told us that the eye of the hurricane came directly over West End and that the tidal surge had affected almost every home, with those along Front Street being hit most severely.  The water was up to the level on the bottom of the windows on most homes.  Many roofs were ripped off and windows were blown out in the widespread destruction caused by the hurricane of four or five months ago.

One of the many hurricane-damaged homes on Front Street.

It's amazing that on some homes, just the roof was damaged.

We drove our borrowed bikes back to the marina, turned them in, and then went to the pool.  The pool was shockingly cold!  This jolt of cold water created the need for an immediate application of a Goombay Smash from the Tiki Bar.  (Incidentally, a Goombay Smash includes 151 rum, coconut rum, apricot brandy, and a little pineapple juice for color.)  After the second (or was it the third?) one, I can't remember what happened the remainder of the day but I'm sure it was fun.


Just before we crossed the Gulf Stream we decided to trail our rigid-hulled inflatable dinghy rather than keep it on our foredeck.  I thought that the hindrance it offered to my vision being on the foredeck was unacceptable.  This would be particularly important as we reached the Bahamas in daylight.  With the outboard engine safely stored on the transom of s/v Rainy Days, there was less of a risk of loss during the crossing and, with our new propeller, trailing the engine-less dinghy did not slow us down one iota.  Even with our relatively rough Gulf Stream crossing, I wouldn't hesitate to do this again in the future.

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