Thursday, March 21, 2013


White Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas

"Be sure you're tucked in somewhere with west protection by sunset," weather guru Chris Parker said ominously on the SSB as we sat anchored in water wide open to the west.

Okay, 'wide open' is not quite correct. We were surrounded by flats, which break up any big swell, but do nothing about the wind.

The forecast was for a front to swoop through just after sunset (why always at night) kicking up 20-knot wind with periodic nasty squalls. The blow would end by noon the following day.

We looked at our options, debated and decided to reanchor a little further out and sit it out.

It wasn't a decision we were thrilled with but neither was it scary. Should the anchor give way, we would be blown toward sand, not rocks, and we would spend the night ready to pounce, get the anchor up and motor to safety. Not really relaxing but not dangerous either.

When I went forward to lift the anchor to move, I could see through the crystal water that our chain was wrapped and wrapped around a huge-ass rock. Very disconcerting.

I pointed, Chip turned the boat, I reeled in chain. We overshot, backed up and, what?!?! The chain was free. A pre-storm miracle.

We hunted and pecked around for almost an hour trying to find an ideal spot to anchor, no grass, good bit of sand, deep enough water in a 300-foot circumference so we could swing on anchor.

Finally at rest, some Bahamian fishermen motored up just before sunset and gave us a grouper in exchange for two beers.

"Do you think we'll have a big storm tonight?" I asked, assuming fishermen were good weathermen.

"Oh, no. We'll have a beautiful night," he said.

Bahamian fishermen v. Chris Parker. Any wagers?

Sure enough, we could see the front coming toward on the waning sunlight. As darkness fell, the wind kicked up.

There it is! Maybe it will pass north of us?

By midnight it was howling, and we were getting quite a ride on short, choppy water.

I lay in the v-berth going over my anchor drill, puzzling over how I would release both the snubbers, how much chain I would pull in before checking to see if it was piling up wrong (we had 125 feet out). I pondered how in the heck we would find a patch of sand in the dead of night when it had taken us 45 minutes to find one in the daylight.

The tide shifted around 2 a.m. putting the anchor against both wind and current. The snubbers groaned and the wind howled, but the anchor held. Every 30 minutes I opened up Navionics on the iPad to check our position. Our anchor held beautifully.

There was little sleep and a little nausea but nothing to report.

Would I do that again? Probably not. We were lucky that we didn't have squalls. Marsh Harbor to the north got a 50-knot squall with rain, lightning and hail. Eek.

Chris Parker: 1
Fishermen: 0

We rested today and are ready to sail south to Nassau. The farther south we get, the calmer the weather.

South! South!

An inland, saltwater blue hole.

Where some swam ....
... while others watched. Creepy.

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