Monday, May 8, 2017

Allans-Pensacola to West End - 2017

--Blogpost written by Bob

Last night two seagulls visited us and sat on our dinghy until we fed them.  In all the places we've been in the Bahamas, we have never had seagulls come so close and it is surprising to see them in such a remote place as Allans-Pensacola Cay.

These two beautiful seagulls paid us a visit at Allans-Pensacola
Cay the evening before we departed as if to wish us
well.  Of course, they enjoyed the food we offered
them too.  (This photo does not have good detail
because of the motion of the dinghy in the
water--it was rough for the birds too.)

We raised our anchor at Allans-Pensacola Cay at 7:30 AM to get the earliest possible start to our day's travels.  Our goal was to make it West End today, Saturday, May 6, traversing the Indian Cay channel just north of West End on a rising tide.  High tide was at 6:18 PM today.  The distance from Allans-Pensacola Cay to West End is 72 nautical miles.  However, the headwind that we experienced all day reduced our boat speed to between 3 and 5 knots.  The predicted wind was 10 to 20 knots out of the west northwest--but in reality it was 20 to 30 knots all day.  We only made it as far as Great Sale Cay and we still have 45 more miles to go tomorrow.  

Today was a bad day.  Not only was it a slog against a strong headwind but we damaged some fiberglass and some teak trim on the bow of our boat.  Before we left this morning, I asked Maggie to tie the anchors together with a rope, like we always do when we expect rough weather.  She tied them together, but back near the windlass (instead of closer to the bow) which accomplished absolutely nothing.  As the boat "hobby horsed" in the 25-knot headwind, the secondary anchor (the Bruce) hopped off its bow roller and landed on the teak trim on the starboard bow.  The primary anchor (the Rocna) had hopped over the Bruce and was dangling in front of the boat causing several nicks in our fiberglass hull.  We didn't notice it until the only sailboat that we saw today pointed out our loose anchor to us (as we were approaching Little Sale Cay)--it was probably in that condition for hours.   This was the most severe damage ever incurred on s/v Rainy Days.   I am really bummed out about it but I should soon realize that it's now a 34-year old boat and some nicks are to be expected.

For some strange reason our track was not working on our chart plotter since departing Allans-Pensacola--I'll have to look into that when we get to West End since I really don't need it right now.

There were five other boats in the Great Sale anchorage area when we arrived--they look like they've been here all day.  We anchored in the northeastern area of Northwest Harbour where we got the best protection from the wind and waves.

We were completely beat after slogging into the 20 to 25 knots wind
and sea today.  This is the last thing we saw before hitting the sack.


This morning, Sunday, May 7, I was able to better access the damage from yesterday.  The gel coat on the bow is completely destroyed over a length of about a foot in one area (the worst spot), there is a second area where the gel coat was penetrated several times and the starboard side of the bow has numerous streaks through the gel coat from the anchor swinging wildly.

This is a GoPro shot of the primary damaged area of our bow.  
This makes me want to cry.

This is the secondary damaged area of our
bow, another GoPro shot.

We got a relatively early start form the anchorage on Great Sale Cay--it was about 8:30 AM.  We motored the entire day to our waypoint at Mangrove Cay (21 miles away from Great Sale) and then onto the Indian Cay Channel, another 21 nautical miles.

Our autopilot is doing its job crossing the Little Bahama Bank
toward West End.  Even though no one can be seen
in this photo, one of us was on watch.

The Little Bahama Bank was cloudy from all the disturbance caused by the 20 to 25 knot winds 2 days ago.  We had two porpoise sitings during today's trip.

As we approached Indian Cay Channel a small bird, a yellow finch, flew up and sat on my leg as I was sitting at the helm.  The tiny little bird stuck around for about 15 minutes.  I don't know how it got so far away from land.  It was the most unusual experience I've ever had with a wild bird.

It was a little before mid-tide when we went through the Indian Cay Channel and I didn't see a depth less than 6.3 feet.  The channel is probably a mile long (or even longer) and you have to follow the chart plotter pretty carefully to prevent going aground--there are no channel markers whatsoever.  We came out into the ocean and motored south for maybe 1/2 nautical mile and into Old Bahama Bay Marina & Resort.  As soon as we came in, we filled up our two diesel tanks, got our slip assignment (#C-20), docked, and completely washed down the boat.  It had accumulated so much salt from the previous day that all the surfaces were white and gritty.

The boat was washed down at this point.

We had a very nice anniversary dinner at the restaurant on the resort here.  After looking at a printout of the weather report (during dinner), we discussed our options for crossing the Gulf Stream and decided to make our crossing on Wednesday (5/10) and to cross to Ft. Pierce.  More on our crossing plans later...


It was a nice cool evening last night and we both slept very well in the calm waters of the marina.  This morning, Monday, May 8, we went out for breakfast at the on-site restaurant and had a great breakfast, not that our onboard breakfasts have been anything but great--I guess it was different and great.

I noticed some bug biles on my legs and feet this morning, similar to what we experienced last time we were here.  This is the only area in all of the Bahamas where we experienced any insects whatsoever.  After taking a hot shower this morning the small red bite marks disappeared.  I applied some insect repellant and that seems to have done the trick to keep them away.  I think they are biting midges (locally called "no-see-ums").  They are more prevalent because of the light and variable winds we've been experiencing here in West End.

I spent all morning going over the users manual for my chart plotter.  I managed to get the AIS back on and set some collision-avoidance alarms for our upcoming Gulf Stream crossing, even though most of it will be during daylight hours.  I tested the alarms from the marina and they work great.

I setup distance rings on the chart plotter--the distances change by the scale but it gives to a better way of estimating distances from the boat.  These are useful to utilize along with the AIS.  (AIS stands for Automated Identification System which is a means of tracking other boats and ships.) 

I think I also figured out what happened to my old tracks.  When the limit for the track is reached in terms of storage capacity, the track feature simply quits and does not restart--it quit in Allans-Pensacola Cay.  I haven't been able to find a way to recover my old track--it may be impossible.  I changed the color of the new track to be red so that it is not easily confused with other lines on the chart plotter.  I also changed the line for the "go to waypoint route" to a wide line (it's still black) so that it appears different than other lines.  To get rid of some of the clutter on the charts, I turned off the commercial electronic signs for marine businesses.

Most of the boats in the marina are fishing boats and during the
day they are all out fishing.  I like this scene with
the docks and the palm trees.

This is a scene looking northward from our slip in the middle of the
afternoon.  The color of the water in this photograph is an
accurate depiction of the water in the marina--it is a
little cloudy but still turquoise in color.

Some Bahamian beer cases at the pool bar.  There are
two Bahamian beers: Kalik and Sands.

I bought two fresh lobsters from a guy who sells them at the marina--that solves the problem of "what's for dinner tonight."

This will be our last blogpost from the Bahamas this season.  Tomorrow, our Gulf Stream crossing and the following day or two and will be covered in our next blogpost "West End to Vero Beach - 2017."

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