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We have left Fort Lauderdale!

October 8, 2015

School work (Math) 

Cole looking across the "New River" to Catamaran Saltair 3

Reading on deck at Cooley's City Docks

Cockpit Chaos! While provisioning

It's Hot and Humid in Fort Lauderdale!

At Cooley's City Docks Fort Lauderdale while gathering provisions and spares

 

We have left Fort Lauderdale. 

After 3 weeks of boat provisioning, minor repairs, spare part shopping, upgrades including water maker install, SSB radio install (aka HAM radio), boat cleaning and more, we are Sailing again!

Heading South our first anchorage was “No Name Harbour” on Key Biscayne the first of the Florida Keys. 

It’s a perfectly protected little harbour with a sea wall to walk or ride and a restaurant at the head of the harbour. 

It was a long day getting there. We arrived in No Name Harbour a little late at 1900 (7 pm) after an early morning, a late start, 3 bridge delays (bridge maintenance, a train and bad timing) then a 6 hour sail from Fort Lauderdale, we were beat.

We spent the following day in the little harbour getting used to being at anchor on the Cat, but in the afternoon we pulled out our “bikes” for a ride around the sea wall and through the forested trails to the Key Biscayne Lighthouse.

Our bikes aren’t really bikes, they are actually called “Kick Scooters”. We bought them online last year while we were working on our Catamaran upgrades. They have inflatable tires and hand brakes. The step is wide and the handle bars are adjustable, they even fold down. This makes for easy storage on a sailboat where space is precious. They weren’t cheap at $300 a scooter but they’re well worth it. 

Made of anodized aluminium they haven’t rusted, and not having chains or sprockets they don’t have any greasy parts, the scooter decks are wide and long enough for both feet either side by side or front and back and handle bars that fold down make storing them a lot easier than any bicycle would!

No Name harbour is a great spot to start your Gulf Stream crossing but watch out they do charge $20 just to drop the anchor there.

We left at 0400 am to do our crossing and it took us just 7 hours this time to get to Bimini. The seas were small and the winds light, we would have preferred stronger winds to allow us to hoist a sail or two but weren’t complaining because the last time we crossed we had too much wind and way too large of waves. Picture 20 to 25 knots of wind and 6-8 feet of seas with the occasional 10 footer.

 

Our first landfall after crossing the Gulf Stream was North Bimini. 

  

Krista on Weechs dock next to Catamaran Saltair 3

 Squalls over Bimini

 Weech's Dock North Bimini

Skype-ing home from Weech's Dock North Bimini

 

Bimini is a sleepy place with two islands being North and South Bimini. We choose North Bimini and the same place we docked at last time, Weechs dock owned by Eleanor Weech an original resident of Bimini. I found Eleanor to be a little crusty and grumpy each time but she’s a tired looking soul and didn’t bother me, it just added character and flavour to the visit. 

She has a small and crowded General Store at the head of the dock, by small I mean the size of most people’s kitchens but chocked full or everything a boater could need, if you can find it amongst the crazy clutter.

Weech’s docks are bleached out and weathered by sun and sea adding to their charm. They offer free wifi but their dial up speeds aren’t very useful. There are a couple of showers and a parrot named Sailor that constantly calls out “Hello”, catches me off guard almost overtime.

There is a restaurant and bar right next to Weechs. It’s on the water front facing the marina and it is VERY noisy in the late evening until the early morning hours, so if you have a Catamaran, sleep on the outside cabin or don’t plan on sleeping much until after about 0200 am.

We found a fishing boat on the government dock and walked up to ask if they had any Lobster to sell. Yes they did.

A bag of 12 small 4 oz Lobster tails cost us $25 US or Bahamian dollars. It was Thanksgiving back in Canada and although we missed having Turkey dinner with all the side dishes mom loves to spoil us with, we did have a two tail Lobster dinner outside in our cockpit watching the sunset and enjoying a cold beer with a comfortable 90F temperature. Would I trade places with my Canadian friends and family that day… maybe, but only for that day.

 

Lobster on Thanksgiving Day. We're very Thankful.

 

We left Bimini later the next day for Cat cay, a cay just 2 hours south of Bimini and the perfect spot to start our longest day of 

sailing/motoring (hear on in called Sailing) across the Bahama Banks for the Berry Islands and Chub Cay our next landfall. 

The Bahama banks is an amazing body of water. It’s well over a hundred miles across in most spots but just 10 to 15 feet deep everywhere with a sandy bottom throughout. It’s possible to drop the anchor anywhere during your crossing of the banks if need be. 

Once again we had little wind and motored the whole way. We’re going to need more diesel! 

The Banks ends at what is known as the Tongue of the Ocean. It literally is shaped like a tongue and the depth goes from 10-15 feet of the banks to well over 10,000 feet in less than a mile and stays that deep for the rest of its width and length. The fishing is fantastic here and both times we’ve sailed here we’ve been lucky. Last time Cole brought in a couple of Barracuda and a couple of Mahi Mahi. 

 

This time the weather had begun to change and a group of Squalls had formed in front and behind us so fishing was not a priority, although Cole before putting the rods away did bring in a couple of Barracuda, but no yummy Mahi Mahi this time.

As we got closer to the Berry Islands these Squalls began coming at us from all directions.

I found myself slowing down to let the big one in front pass us bye and then speeding up to keep ahead of the other group of nasties behind us. 

Squalls tend to pack a lot of strong winds with them, limited visibility and lots of heavy rain! I did not want to be a part of that. Check out our YouTube channel (search Trio Travels on YouTube) and find a short video of a Squall that walked on us in Eleuthera packing lots of lighting, wind and rain.  

We have Radar on our Catamaran and can see the Squalls brewing and moving around at up to 25 Nautical miles away. The Radar over lays our chart plotter and as you might know, provides a ring of radar tracking picking up boats and Squalls in that wide circle. Everything shows up as a purple blip on the screen but it’s easy to discern between a Squall and a boat. While a boat is a purple blip the Squalls we have been tracking have taken up half of the screen!  We track them, watching them move slowly across the chart plotter screen. 

This is the first time we’ve really got great use out of the Radar and we love it! I can see it being a real asset to our sailing plans. 

No one wants to get caught in a Squall if they can avoid it. Last time out while sailing to Eluthera, a Bahamian Island north of us, we got a little too close to a Squall and had strong winds hit us fast and hard. We scrambled to get sail down and the three of us did really well for our first encounter. 

 

We are now along the Tongue of the Ocean and have anchored a little south of Chub Cay at Whale Cay in about 5 feet of crystal clear blue water. We have the anchorage to ourselves and of course had a beautiful swim. 

Seems we are a little earlier getting down here than the South bound snow bird boating cruisers. Most anchorages we’ve dropped the hook at have been completely empty, and while we enjoy the blissful peace of having a spot entirely to ourselves, we are starting to miss seeing other fellow cruisers even if to only wave a hello to.

From Whale cay we cross the Tongue of the Ocean sailing South East to New Providence, the Island where Nassau is located. 

Last time back in March 2015 with Ken Penner aboard as Crew we sailed straight East to Nassau and spent a couple of days at dock there before heading South for the Exumas. New Providence is the last stop before landfall in the beautiful Exuma Islands.

So instead of stopping at Nassau this time we went for the West end of New Providence and dropped the anchor at West Bay NP. 

This was really just a stopping point for us, continueing onto the Exumas would take another 8-9 hours and because we didn’t have to do a 15 hour trip, we chose not too and spent the night in West Bay. 

West bay is quite protected. It is fairly shallow with a sand bottom, perfect for anchoring. We dropped the dinghy and took a tour of the bay. It’s quite large and encircled by nice homes and mansions. At the Northern end of the bay there is a strange place. We think it is a resort but are unsure, here is our description: 

With a man made out cropping approximately 10 feet high, a beautiful Palm tree is growing from the top of it with four huge Lion head statues around the base. Now by huge I mean about the size of a pick up truck and four of them encircle. Follow along the shore and Aztec temples rise up all around with Palm trees everywhere throughout this Aztec city. There are towers amongst the temples with levels of patios or decks for what we think might be dining levels based on your status, two of these towers rise up almost as high as the Aztec temples. 

Along the Beach are coloured beach chairs in all colours and a building with an outdoor exercise gym, complete with all the high tech workout equipment and a large mirrored wall. Then there is a mini canal cut into the rock of the island where a large motor yacht is tied up. On the transom of the yacht the name of the boat states “Yves St Laurent”. Wait it gets better, as the sun set on West Bay and we enjoyed dinner outdoors again in 90F weather, the lights of Yves St Laurent's play resort came on. Neon oranges and yellows up and down the Aztec temples, neon LED lights of green throughout the Palm trees, blues and yellows everywhere and at the top of the Aztec temple the brightest yellow light of all. Very interesting and very weird. We didn’t see ONE person when we dinghied by or while watching through the binoculars while at anchor.

 

From West bay it was another 8-9 hours to the start of the beautiful Exuma Islands chain. Our goal. 

We’ve arrived now at Allens cay, the cay with the rare Bahamian Iguanas (check out our YouTube video of the Iguanas in “Cruising the Exumas” part one) We’ve dropped the anchor in 8 feet of bright blue turquoise water and the sand is brilliant white. 

A swim of course is next and a good nights sleep. Tomorrow after a morning of home school we plan on going snorkelling for Lobster! … but that’s for next time.

 

Cheers!

Brad

 

Sting Rays and Eagle Rays swim under the Cat at Weechs Dock North Biminin, Alice Town

 

 

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