Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Slaughter Harbor, Berry Islands, Bahamas

We would have probably laid up in Great Harbor today if Jessie Marie weren't anchored so tauntingly close, close enough for VHF radio contact.

Dale and Karen, who came over to the Bahamas more than a month ago, are waiting for us a scant 12 miles south as the seagull flies, but 36 miles as the full keel sailboat must pass.

The weather called for a brisk 15 knots from the southeast, not ideal, but we thought with only 17 miles of the trip in open water, heading southeast, we might, just might be able to manage. And maybe the prediction would be wrong. It often is.

We scoped out all the potential spots to ditch in if it was ugly and headed out.

It was a beautiful, sunny day, the turquoise water brilliant, dazzling. We sailed a beautiful clip in the lee of Stirrup Cay heading east, but we could feel the swell wrapping around toward us as we approached the eastern edge of the island.

We were full sail without the engine, one reef in the main, and when we sped past the island's edge, we got the full brunt of 20-knot wind and 4-6 foot swell on our beam. The weather was indeed wrong. They had underestimated the conditions. I handed the helm over to Chip, who is always better at muscling through waves. Cara Mia was overpowered, and we weren't placed well to take in any sail except for the tiny staysail, which I took in on my own while Chip galloped us along in the swell.

Unable to turn south, we headed straight east until we had the conditions and a plan well in hand, then tacked back straight west, full speed at an anchored cruise ship. Chip fell off the wind, I eased the main, and we surfed the stern of the Norwegian Pearl, surely providing good entertainment on a gray day at anchor.

We ducked happily into the unfortunately named Slaughter Harbor on the northern end of Stirrup. The anchorage looks like it has a shallow entrance, but it doesn't. It also looks to be exposed to the south, but it's not.

Our anchorage was just out of VHF range of Jessie Marie, but some generous folks relayed for us, and we tucked in for a good night's rest.

Tomorrow is always another day.

Our stern view was very intimate coming back the other way.

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