The Final Leg of the Homeward Bound Rally

Here is a little summary of our sail from the USVI.

The wind forecast called for downwind sailing the whole way until we exited the Old Bahamas Channel we might face a bit of a north wind in the Gulf Stream. Ha!

So we left the Virgin Islands in a very light wind from the East. We have a heavy headsail, a 135% Genoa made for upwind sailing in tradewinds. We had to reach off.

We continued to Jibe our way across the top of Puerto Rico. PR is a long island. Longer than Long Island. It seemed to take forever and the waves and swell would knock the wind out of our sail at times. Annoying as hell.

When we got to the Dominican Republic we expected wind and we got some. We also got waves but we were moving. Other boats with a spinnaker or a light air blooper were making tracks. We continued to jibe. Eventually the wind completely faded and we pretty much drifted for a day in the sun which was actually kind of fun and relaxing but we were not making progress so by late afternoon the motor came on and we dropped anchor in Great Inagua.

This is where the weather turned to crap. We went from no wind to too much and all the areas around us were getting hideous storms in between periods of zero wind. We did not have the fuel to continue along the Bahamas Channel Route if there were three days of no wind. Crazy. So we waited for the weather to change.

While we waited the Bahamas government decided that they would let sailors who applied for safe passage (we did) stop to rest and refuel and wait out bad weather. Cool! Our decision was made to pass safely through the Bahamas along a regular route versus making a quick run through the Old Bahamas Channel. Interestingly our weather dude advised us to take the OBC route. I turned down the advice and damn glad I did.

It was tempting to follow everyone else and head that way but the allure of stopping to rest and refuel was too great so we watched the others pull anchor and head out while we waited for the wind up north to take a break. This was tough. Everyone moving while we sat there.

While we sat there Arthur formed and things got weird. If we had followed the others we would have got the shit kicked out of us and possibly broke the boat. Some of the others are in for repairs. Some are possibly in therapy after so much praying to survive. It was a good move on our part. My gut was saying “Don’t be a fool! Fool!” Best decision all year.

Arthur sucked the wind out of the area leaving pretty much nothing to sail with except the trip from Great Inagua to Acklins where we hit 8 knots with just a reefed headsail. I had to slow the boat down by pulling more of the sail in so we could sleep. After this we had to motor sail and get past Long Island which was a long slog in big swell. Pukey.

When we rounded Long Island we throttled down to maintain just under 5 knots and quietly and in still water moved through the darkness of Exuma Sound. The stars were incredible from Great Inagua to this point. Just amazing to look at.

Getting through the cut into the current near Black Point was fun. We nailed it dead center. We refueled at Staniel Cay and waited some more for the weather to clear.

I think we stressed for days about the DECCA Channel route through the Great Bahama Bank we were thinking of taking. There was a shallow section on the charts showing 6ft 9 inches. We draw 6 ft. We were making ourselves sick and second guessing our route. I went to facebook and friends (Odin) for help. I got some good advice and we left in the morning for the channel in poor light. When we got to the “Shallow” spot we never saw anything under 12 ft. WTF! A complete waste of stress.

We had 65 hours of fuel to burn for our trip home and we ran that diesel the whole way with the main up to catch any wind. There was no wind and we eventually dropped the sail when we hit the Atlantic Ocean.

The crossing from the Bahamas to the USA was the second best crossing we’ve had. Flat water and any waves (less than 2 ft) were behind us. Easy peasy! We got into the stream and were doing 9 and almost 10 knots and eventually we were in the glow of Florida. As we approached West Palm I looked at Deb and asked, “What’s that smell?” She couldn’t place it but with a crinkled nose was thinking is this what the US smells like?

Comet. Comet cleanser. That’s the smell. I figured it out eventually and Deb agreed. Home smells like Comet Cleanser. Oye.

We pulled into West Palm in the dark and poked around. We almost ran aground looking for a spot to anchor and then dropped the hook too close to another boat but they were asleep. In the morning the guy was like, “What the fuck man!” Then the storm hit and lightning struck and Deb screamed and the dude we were next to probably cursed us but eventually it all stopped and they left and here we are 😀

As you know by now from Facebook we had some damage from the lightning strike and lost our autopilot among other things. This forced us to motor up the ICW until we could jump out at St Mary’s and jump back in at St Simons.

I have to thank the Salty Dawgs. They were awesome! Great organization and a pretty darn good rally that was quickly organized to get us home safely. Cheers to the Dawgs.

Sorry I have not blogged in a while. Still trying to unload and clean the boat and come to grips with the fact it’s over.

Cheers!

P

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