Thursday we had a quiet night in Crab Cay enjoying the sheltered anchorage. We sat on the coach roof and watched the sun go down; marvelled at the spectacle of the huge orange moon; and enjoyed the sight of Jupiter and Venus so close together in the sky…. Love this life!
Friday morning we decided to move on. Crab Cay was a great anchorage – flat calm – but not much else to offer apart from scrubland and rocks. So we motored the seven miles (no wind again) to Allens Pensacola – was a lovely bright start to the day.
We had just tucked into the entrance to this anchorage and were sitting in the cockpit and I realised that the fridge was playing up again……and drawing more power than needed. So Richard quickly got out his refrigeration manifold set and added a bit more gas – which seems to have solved the problem – fingers crossed! My hero…..
Later on Chris and Amanda sailed into the anchorage on their boat Empathy. We went exploring by dink for a while before meeting up with them on the beach. We all went in the water – and saw a few critters, including a sunfish, which was the first time we’d seen one of these whilst snorkelling. Richard also got a good shot of Empathy at anchor from the water. Later on we had Chris and Amanda over for sundowners and had a great time catching up with the news.
Saturday morning and we picked them up by dink and we went out through the cut to explore the Atlantic side of the island and go snorkelling. It was very weedy at the beach but some good fish and coral to be found further out.
We headed back through the cut and visited another part of the shoreline. Well – this was not my favourite place! I could see things pulsing / throbbing on the bottom but wasn’t sure what they were – and Richard came by to see and, as we were so shallow, he disturbed a few of them. Oh no – they are jelly fish. And they were everywhere….. Have never seen them sitting on the bottom like that before….. Yuck!!! I have to say I didn’t hang around in the water much after that – although did have a face off with a couple of baby barracuda which was fun.
Watching the clouds coming over we decided to head back – and dropped Chris and Amanda off – just in time for the heavens to open and another thunderstorm to move through…… Sooooo hot and humid…. We had a lazy afternoon and evening on board before having an early night.
Sunday morning and we left the anchorage bound for Great Sail Cay. Chris and Amanda had left two hours ahead of us – and the plan was to catch them up! Well … no chance … the wind was too light for Morphie and although we managed to keep the sails full and hit over 6 knots in the occasional gust at other times we were struggling in the 3-4 knot range. But we were determined to sail all the way as it had been a while since we’d had any wind at all – and managed the 32 miles in just under seven hours…. Slow but fun – although the constant power boat traffic was a bit of a menace at times.
As we rounded the top of Great Sail Cay the colour of the water was stunning……
Anchor down and we headed ashore – this time we were going bobbing and had supplies with us. All four of us were in the water and then we were suddenly surrounded by tiny bait fish….and then the sharks came by. Well – they were pretty big sharks – and so we had to keep an eye out for them. They were very actively hunting the fish and even beached themselves a few times – a great spectacle and kept us amused for sure.
Having had a fun few hours we said our farewells to Chris and Amanda and headed back to Morphie for a quiet night on board. They are heading off to Florida too but are staging at West End so that they can do the crossing in daylight…… Crossing the Gulf Stream both ways on a small trailer sailor is quite an achievement and huge kudos to them.
Later on during the evening we sat out on the coach roof for a while – this time we were watching some critters that glow in the dark passing by in the water…… Isn’t nature wonderful?
Monday morning and the wind had picked up – yay! – so we moved further up the coast of Great Sail Cay to get a bit more protection from the chop. We are the only boat here now…..
We have been ashore and explored by dink…..
Back on board we got on with passage planning to Florida – trying to ensure we hit the tide leaving the Bahama banks and the tide going in at the Fort Pierce inlet to give us the best conditions. The rest of the day was spent doing pre-passage engine checks and Richard cleaned Morphie’s water line while I blogged off-line.
Tuesday morning and we were up early getting ready to go to sea – Richard was doing more maintenance checks and hit a problem with the holding tank Y-valve and ended up delving into a nasty blocked hose. He fixed it – but definitely needs replacing – so something else for the list. The list of things to do – things to buy – is starting to outnumber the days we have left!!! Finally at 3.30 pm – only 30 minutes after we had planned – we picked up anchor and left our last Bahamian anchorage for this season. Bye….it was fun!
Of course the wind has died again and the forecast 10 knots turned into 0-2 knots…. so we had to motor. It was like a millpond out on the banks with gentle ripples on the water broken only by the occasional leap of the flying fish getting out of the way.
We played some tunes – loudly – and sang along…..praying for wind…. This is our last long passage of the season – please Sir we want to sail!!!!! But the wind gods decided not to play – but at least the thunderstorms which were circling us decided to leave us alone.
After an early dinner together we moved into our three hour shift patterns and the storms kept on coming through – and I’m alone in the cockpit when suddenly I saw a huge loggerhead turtle surface for air. Well my excited ‘radical dude’ greeting to the turtle obviously woke Richard up because he came up into the cockpit all discombobulated wondering why the boat was moving LOL. The sun went down and we continued motoring…..
No boat traffic either – all a bit weird – feel like we are the only people left in the world right now! We exited the banks around 1am – with the falling tide – and moved into the deep water. Still with no wind. But at least there are ships…. six of them to be precise with only one getting close – and the radio woke me – when Richard and the captain agreed that we would pass behind his stern.
We made some southing to compensate for the anticipated escalator ride north that is the Gulf Stream and carried on…. Richard was on watch to enjoy the spectacular sunrise at sea heralding the start of a new Wednesday.
Even the Gulf Stream wasn’t in the mood running at only 2 knots and didn’t even carry us as far as our rhumb line – so once we were out of the stream we corrected our heading and enjoyed the ride. Eventually we saw the buildings on the coastline of Florida – we’ve made it. We’ve sailed (er….motored) to Florida. Woo hoo!!!
Arriving at the Fort Pierce inlet, in time for the ingoing tide as planned, we picked our way through the confusing ICW markers (including one red marking shallow water on the wrong side of the channel) and eventually anchored in skinny water off Harbortown Marina. The passage was 118 miles in total.
But, oh dear, the water here is nasty!!! Muddy and brown…. Not sure what we were expecting but this wasn’t it! Oh well….. never mind.
We telephoned the US authorities and gave over our information – all good – got a ‘locator reference number’ and told to report to customs at St Lucie County Airport. Got dink down, went into the marina, ordered a taxi – and waited for a long time in the heat of the day. Finally the cab turned up and the guy didn’t know where the customs office was – eventually he got some information from his controller and we found the right place. In and out in minutes – very easy process – hurrah! Back to the marina, we went into the bar to have a late lunch and a few celebratory beers, enjoyed the views and the start of the entertainment.
Oh yes….and the pelicans are back. Certainly didn’t see any in the Bahamas…. Check them out in front of Morphie at anchor. Back on board, safe and sound, and we had a very early night – going to bed even before the sun went down.
The plan is to stay here on anchor for a while to top up our varnish again…. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we did it, but actually, it was January so it is due…. Yes – an endless task – just like painting the Forth Bridge! After that we’re thinking we may go into the marina if they can accommodate us – so that we can start on the huge list of boat jobs, which are always easier to do on a dock with power for tools and unlimited water. Another option is to move further up the coast to a better anchoring spot and work from there. Decisions, decisions, decisions…..
We need to use the time in Florida wisely where we have access to marine stores and services. Although not sure of our routing yet we are planning to cruise to Panama next season; and if we go through the canal the following year into the Pacific, then we need to have on board a huge array of spare parts and tools. That’s without the periphery things like new lifejackets, scuba tanks, jerry jugs etc….. And other checks like the rigging…..and the sails…..and the navigation / communications gear….and on the list goes….. Oh yes, some new summer clothes and swimsuits would be good too, as each year I get home to find the shops full of autumn wear LOL.
So a car is necessary – and somewhere to stay when Morphie is hauled while we do the final jobs on the hard – and then we need to make transport arrangements to Tampa to pick up another car from the airport to visit with friends over on the West Coast before flying Tampa to Toronto… Toronto??? Yes, seriously! We are going to visit some good friends in Canada on the way home to London. All very exciting – but just writing the list makes me feel tired!!!
Bye for now