Left the open, desolate anchorage off the south tip of Acklins island in the late afternoon and headed southeast after passing the tall, white, empty lighthouse on Castle Island. Hugged the island to keep us out of shipping lanes in the Mira Por Vos passage. Our first overnight sail up ahead of us, we talked through our game plans should things go awry, and trimmed our sails as tight as possible to make it to Great Inagua without tacking or motoring.
The sun sank, fired a brilliant orange, and then all too quickly left us in darkness. My mom’s fancy solar lights lit up to keep us company. Those things are awesome! With no moon to speak of I was amazed at how much natural light was in the air even with no cloud cover and no other ambient light. You could still see clouds, the horizon, and wavelets. And let’s face it. When you’re offshore, that’s about all there is to see anyway!
Also saw lights of a few ships passing in the night. Reminded me of a melodic song by Brazilian Girls. The close ones popped up on our AIS display, though I couldn’t get a copy from them when I hailed them on the SSB and VHF. Maybe they were ignoring me like a big brother ignores a dorky little sibling. Story of my life.
With fifteen knots of wind we scooted right along at six knots, the motion a touch uncomfortable since we were heading into the wind and waves, but not altogether unpleasant. We had some dinner in the dark, trying to keep our eyes on the darkened horizon for the sake of our stomachs. Then it was time to start our watches. We kept three-hour stints, which sometimes turned into four. One went below and tried to sleep while the other read or looked out into the black, and studies the horizon every ten minutes to look for big, fast, scary freighters. The motion and noise of slapping waves below made falling asleep annoying, but not impossible. After a few shifts, some annoyingly erratic wind just before dawn, and lots of midnight snacks, the east horizon glowed orange, and the sun shot beams out of the cloud bank. We’d made our first overnight! And we were bushed. Pulled into the anchorage off the rocky shore of Mathew Town, Great Inagua, and slept until the afternoon.
The next few days we explored the town, picked up Liza from the airport, and made some Dutch friends along the way!
Martjin and Seeneka were in town to survey the construction of the new port, as the old one left something to be desired. Bahamas Air lost their GPS antennas, so they had a little time to do some depth measurement of the waters surrounding the island. Thus, we happily decided to postpone the boat projects we had in mind in favor of a sailing day up to the Man of War Bay with our new friends! They showed up with snacks, drinks, and a heavy bruce anchor Martjin found on the bottom of the quay! They were both experience sailors (more so than us!) and it was fabulous to have a full crew to work the sails. Made eight knots heading north and were shadowed for some time by a pod of dolphins playing in our bow wake. The island’s main revenue is from Morton Salt, which makes it’s sea salt here. Huge mounds of the precious stuff loomed tall on shore and a freighter loaded maneuvered in to load up.
Pulled into the bay and all jumped in the water to do some spearfishing! Only got one fish, but made a tasty fried snack for us. Sailed back in the dark under blazing stars and made dinner in our old anchorage. Really fun, impromptu day with some really interesting, storied, and fun people. That’s what we live for.
This morning, Chris Parker’s forecast sounded promising for the Windward Passage and the crossing to Colombia. We made haste, and got to work readying the boat for an afternoon departure tomorrow. I worked engines, Liza did decks and rigging, and Miranda worked galley. In six hours we had engine fluids and filters changed, running rigging checked, foreword lockers battened down, and lunches made for the days on passage. A little provisioning tomorrow and we’ll be off like and reaching south! Colombia here we come!
pps- Credit to Sanneke Reiche for the top-most image.