Recap Interlude: On the Move in the Bahamas

Actually got to sail a bit after leaving Port Lucaya. It didn’t last long…but it was nice while it did

Let’s take a break from the recap, shall we?

Yes, Further is on her way in the Bahamas. And in keeping with the tenor of the entire trip, there have been some “you gotta be kidding me” setbacks already. To be fair: the positives have been wonderful. But I’m frankly pretty tired of shit going wrong.

The biggest snafu arose yesterday when the autopilot gave up the ghost. It’s throwing a “Rudder response failure” error and simply put: the autopilot simply doesn’t move the rudder. I stuck my head in the lazarette when the situation arose but the connections between the steering mechanism (ie: the shaft on which the rudder hangs) and the autopilot all looked good. I’m guessing it’s either the autopilot’s computer or the drive mechanism that is kaput. No surprises really, since it’s not a young machine, but it couldn’t have done this back on the Chesapeake? Say, in July? When we get somewhere we’ll be for a couple of days (more on that in a sec), I’ll crawl into the cockpit locker and have a look. I’m not sure there’s anything I can really see/check, but who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky (ha!) and it will just be something obvious and simple. Otherwise it will require an expensive solution (what else is new?).

Thank god I had crew on board when this happened so we could take turns hand steering. But this is a potentially major impediment to ease of travel. No autopilot means no solo sailing. It even means hard work when there IS crew. Not that we always use the autopilot, but being able to punch a button and quickly go tackle something else is very handy.

The other snafu is just frustrating: I (stupidly) topped off my diesel tank upon arrival after our crossing last week. And as is par for the course in, well, third-world countries, the diesel is just crap: filled with water and detritus. So while motoring out of our anchorage this morning, the fuel filter alarm went off and, lo and behold, the Racor and secondary filters were just…blech. It was a not-so-pleasant flashback to that second morning headed down the Chesapeake when this whole trip got started. Fortunately, we had a little wind (not as much as forecast) and it was out of the east so we were able to continue making slow progress southward while I cleaned the filters. And the engine ran fine the rest of the way as we motorsailed (engine and mainsail) toward Nassau.

So yeah, more of the same on this trip…

Now, about the GOOD parts…

The photo doesn’t do it justice, but the blue of the water on the shallow banks of the Bahamas is just amazing

We anchored last night in a little bight behind Petit Cay, which is basically a tiny islet just east of Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands. As we came out of the deep water of the Northwest Providence Channel (depths in the thousands of feet) onto the shallower water on the banks surrounding the Berry Islands, the water went from that pure, dark blue of the open ocean to the translucent turquoise of the clear, sandy-bottom tropics. I get tired of that “gin-clear water” cliche, but how else are you gonna describe it? It’s practically invisible. It was such a trip to drop the anchor and watch it all the way until it hit the bottom, watch the chain pay out behind it and then still be able to see it all under the light of the almost-full moon around midnight.

There were about a dozen other boats anchored in the same area, including a handful who’d come from the same marina back in Freeport. A long, sandy beach ringed the bight and as I have wanted to do ever since I bought Further, upon anchoring I immediately jumped overboard and swam around. Ahhhh! I grabbed a mask and went to examine the anchor (it was dug in nicely) and on the way back to the boat an inquisitive wahoo swam over to glare at me.

I kinda wished we were staying longer as I’d have loved to paddled my stand-up board around, I’d have loved to have snorkeled a bunch more and I’d have loved to have sampled the wares at the little restaurant/bar that was on the beach (it was closed on Sunday). But this morning dawned and I figured it was better to keep moving on.

Thus far, I’ve been in delivery mode the entire trip: always headed TO somewhere. And if all goes well, tomorrow we’ll arrive The plan is to head out of here in the morning and make our way to Shroud Cay in the northern Exuma Islands. Once there, we’re “there.” I’ll feel like I’ve actually taken my sailboat to the Bahamas. From there, it’s island-hopping at our leisure, with short trips between islands, and water fun at every stop, before we inevitably turn around and head home. But that’s a ways off in the future so let’s stay in the present for now, shall we? And hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to report with that new, I’m “there” mindset. Stay tuned.