Friday, May 14, 2010
Visit of beautiful Islans
We left the marina at Turks and Caicos at high tide (basically because it is the only time we could leave) and set sail for the Bahamas. We were planning on an overnight trip to Conception Island, over 200 miles away. The weather was great, if not a little more wind and waves than expected. But we were going down wind and things were going along smoothly, and we were making great speed. To top it all off, we had one of the most beautiful sunsets off shore that we have ever seen. The sky was red and orange and pink everywhere you looked (the picture does not do it justice, trust me). It was a great night to sail, and we were just chugging along.
But that all changed in the morning when we were in the middle of the Crooked Island Passage, and we hit something. There was a distinct thump at the bow, a whomp as it hit the keel, and then a thwock-da-ti-thwock as it hit the prop. As with all of our off-shore troubles, I was on watch when it happened. So Jay woke up in a panic and ran upstairs to help.
Handle the situation now this is one of our biggest fears out here. There is always debris floating around the ocean, and sometimes it sits just below the water line and is invisible to the eye (so basically unavoidable). And this debris can cause severe damage to the hull with devastating results. The good news was that whatever we hit was not too hard and we weren’t taking on any water, so the hull was intact. The bad news was that whatever we hit had probably damaged the prop because our engine was making all kinds of thump-a-di-thump noises and our boat was a shimming and a shaking when we used the engine.
The only way to confirm our conclusion was to have a look. So Jay secured his harness to the boat, put on his snorkel gear, and popped his head under the water off the back swim platform. What did he find? A giant tangled mess of an old fishing net wrapped around the prop- blerg! We wanted to jump in with dive gear and free the prop right away, but felt that it would be too dangerous of a maneuver out here in the open sea.
Even without the sails up, we were still travelling 2-3 knots because the wind and waves were pushing us along. So we tried to get it off with our boat hook and gaff, but to no avail. Bear in mind that Jay is precariously balanced over the swim platform while doing all this, and we are still travelling along at a decent clip and the waves are bouncing the boat all around. So what happens next? The life vest automatically inflates and nearly strangles Jay and effectively pins him under the dinghy (at this point, we found the whole thing rather hilarious, more of a comedy of errors than dangerous). So I helped him get off the swim platform, free from the life vest, and back into the cockpit safe and sound.
Needless to say, we had to change our plans. Now that we fouled the prop we were only traveling at about 4-5 knots. At this speed, there was no way we could make landfall at Conception Island before sunset. And with all the reefs and shallow patches surrounding the island, you can’t just pull in at night. You have to be able to read the water to safely maneuver your.
boat into the anchorage. So what was plan B? We brought out all of our charts and calculated our options. Luckily, if we changed course and our boat speed did not drop below 4 knots, we could make it to Rum Cay before dark. So we pushed on. Morale was low, but Jay had to remind me that things never really go to plan out here (and they really don’t). We always end up with plan B, or C, or sometimes even D. The only time to panic is when you run out of options. And face it; stopping at Rum Cay was a good option.
So we sailed on and were able to pull into Rum Cay later that afternoon. Jay quickly jumped overboard once we had the anchor down to free our prop. He hacked away at it with a knife and got the tangled mess off- yeah! And we celebrated with a rum and coke. After an early dinner, we zonked out, totally exhausted from our trip up from the Turks and Caicos. But we had made it, the Rum Runners were back in the Bahamas!
Well, sort of. We still had to check in.
to customs and immigration. Contrary to popular belief, there are no government officials on Rum Cay. So we had to continue our trek to Georgetown. But not without a quick stop at Conception Island first (will write more on that later). All in all we had a great trip back to the Exumas, and I am happy to report that it was uneventful the rest of the way. We are now anchored at Monument Beach in Georgetown, in the exact spot that we were at over two years earlier. This place is special to us in a way, because this is where we made the big decision to leave the Bahamas and sail down to the Caribbean (and doesn’t that seem like a lifetime ago). In some ways, we can’t believe that we are back. And we almost forgot how beautiful it really is here in the Bahamas… almost