Better Late Than Never

Further’s first Bahamian sunrise, on approach to Grand Bahama Island

Well, I sure hope the old saw I used as a title is correct and this post being, oh, three-plus months, give or take, overdue isn’t reason enough for you to skip over this humble little website. I like to think that after a couple of months of just insane “seriously?!” moments, now that Further has finally made it to the Bahamas means that a new page has been turned. Let’s hope so, at least.

So what of the past couple of months, you ask? Well, let’s just catch you up with where we are right now, and what the short-term plan is going forward, and then in the coming days I’ll catch you up with where we’ve been. I hope you’ll indulge me a bit.

Further currently sits in a slip at the Grand Bahama Yacht Club in Port Lucaya, Freeport. The name is a tad grandiose; it’s really simply a marina with a bit of a resort (cabins, a bar/restaurant, a pool) tacked on. A nice marina, though, to be sure. I quite like it here and it’s wonderful to finally be in a foreign country rather than back in Florida (which was also cooler than expected, to be honest; more on that in upcoming posts).

We arrived here in Port Lucaya around 11 a.m. Friday morning, Feb. 16, after departing Riviera Beach, Fla., around 10:30 p.m. Thursday night. Weather conditions were favorable if not ideal: light winds at around 10 knots from the east to southeast. The direction meant it would be right on our nose, but it also meant it wouldn’t be blowing against the northerly flowing Gulf Stream. That wind-against-current situation makes for gnarly conditions, with short, steep waves—the kind of conditions that breaks small boats.

So while conditions were benign—and it was a lovely evening full of stars and no moon after it set around midnight—we were forced to motor the entire way across. Yes, it was a drag listening to the droning of the engine for twelve-and-a-half hours, but it was also gratifying that the engine performed so flawlessly on an uneventful trip (more on why that’s a big deal in a subsequent post).

Looking back to Lake Worth Inlet, Riviera Beach and a waxing crescent moon. Next stop: the Bahamas

After pulling out of our slip in Riviera Beach, we turned the corner around Peanut Island and headed toward Lake Worth Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean—and also a large cargo vessel entering the inlet. The lights on the houses on shore and the lights on the ship played tricks with my mind and at first I thought the traffic was out toward the ocean, IN the inlet itself, headed our way, and that I had time to get off to the side of the channel and we could pass by each other with no problem. But something seemed amiss, though, so I quickly did a 180 and boy, was I glad I did. A couple of loud toots on the horn from the vessel and it was quite clear that the behemoth was actually already in the lagoon and not far away at all. Yikes! We motored back north toward the marina from whence we’d come and away from the industrial shipyard just south of the intersection where the ship was headed, and after just a minute or two, there was plenty of separation and we could proceed out to the ocean.

There was little traffic during the crossing. One ship heading west veered a little closer to us than I thought necessary but we were fine. Further has an AIS system on board so we could “see” the big ships and they could “see” us, so there really wasn’t much risk. A handful of other small vessels were also taking advantage of the weather window, but we didn’t see them other than on the navigation equipment screens.

A lovely morning broke with the wind still on our nose but now down to around 6 knots. The water was that glorious deep blue of the open ocean, with depths in the 2,000-foot range right up to within a mile or two of shore. And as we approached the channel into our little sanctuary in Port Lucaya, the depth dropped to being shallow enough to see the sandy bottom. Further had finally made it to one little area of paradise. Upon arrival, we cleared customs, topped up the diesel tank and settled into our slip. We’ve been here since.

Dig the prices at this place. The lobster roll was tasty

I enjoyed a nice pizza and a couple of rum drinks at the restaurant here at the marina (pizza being the place’s signature dish) and proceeded to sleep the sleep of the dead after having been up for almost two days straight. Last night we ventured over to the Port Lucaya Marketplace and a bar called Rum Runners, which some friends had visited about a month ago. I tried all the Bahamian beers and enjoyed a lobster roll that was half as expensive as what I’d pay back in the U.S. No, it wasn’t Maine lobster; it was the local, southern-water spiny lobster, but it was still damned tasty. And the beers were okay too.

And when I write “we” in this case, I’m referring to an old friend, Naomi, who joined Further a couple of weeks ago in Melbourne, Florida. We knew each other back in New England back in 2012 and since then she’s lived an adventurous life. I figured given her badass nature she’d be good to have along on the trip. She’s settled herself into Further’s aft cabin and is learning what she can about sailing (knots are proving a challenge). She’s also taken the standup paddleboard out a bunch, including yesterday here in the canals around the marina.

As for what’s next: I reserved this slip before our trip knowing that the forecast called for yet another stretch of crappy weather not long after our arrival. Thanks to El Niño, this has been a funky winter in Florida and the Bahamas, with a steady stream of cold fronts making for very inclement weather featuring strong northerly winds—rendering weather windows for crossing between the two places few and far between—and as forecast, we’re enduring one right now. I woke up last night a bit before 5 a.m. to the sound of the wind blowing hard so I went topside to make sure everything was secure. I lashed down the SUP to the cabintop and tightened some of the lines holding Further safely off the concrete docks, and just as I was finishing, a decent little squall line rolled through. In just a few seconds, the winds jumped up and the rain poured down and sent me scurrying back to the cabin. Since then, it’s been mostly overcast with a sprinkle here and then, but the real stuff is supposed to arrive late this afternoon into this evening.

So we’ll sit tight here for that and likely again through Monday. I have a couple of errands I want to do here in Freeport tomorrow (since everything is closed on Sundays), including getting a bolt for the dinghy outboard that I dropped overboard yesterday…whoops. And then, weather permitting, we’ll start south on Tuesday, headed in the direction of Nassau. That’s about 18 hours away so we’ll either do another nonstop, overnight push, or we’ll anchor near the Berry Islands about halfway and rest up. Weather, mainly wind direction, will determine which approach we take.

Nassau will be as brief a stop as possible, hopefully just anchoring out overnight, resting up and then proceeding on in the morning. From there, it’s about five hours to the northern islands in the Exuma chain, and from there we’ll simply island-hop our way south as the mood strikes us. The anchorages and the fishing and the sailing down there are what Further and I are chasing, so the sooner we get down there, the better. Although again, with this being a really unusual winter by Bahamas standards, with regular northerly and westerly winds, many of the usual places aren’t really ideal anchorages. So we’ll see where we wind up.

I hope you’ll stay tuned and find out.


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