Crossing the Gulf Stream!!!

By November 20, 2011Bahamas, Caribbean, Cruising

The air is more fragrant, the water is clearer, and the sand is brighter…I must be back in the Bahamas!!!!  But how did I get here?

Since the Gulf Stream flows north at 4 knots you want to avoid any wind with a north component to it, but since northeasters come down the coast regularly at this time of year you have to wait for the right window.  My weather window opened exactly as predicted and I left at 4:30am.  Since the Gulf Stream is only 5-8 miles offshore from this part of Florida the first third of my trip was the roughest.  The wind never got south of SE and I had 3 foot wave right on the bow (which is not too bad) and at the end of this portion I was predicted to arrive on the Bahamas Bank at 11:30 at night.  Luckily once I got across the apex of the stream everything settled down and I was on the bank at 3pm (or 10.5 hours).  I continued on until sunset and got going at sunrise after anchoring on the middle of the bank with land no closer than 20 miles away.

I arrived at Walker Cay in the very north part of the Abacos Islands.  There is a marked channel to get over a sand bar before you get to the cay.  Right when I entered the channel a pod of five dolphins appeared and led me through the one mile long channel.  As soon as we were through they left to help someone else.  Nice way to be welcomed to the Bahamas!  Walker cay use to be a very popular place with divers and fisherman, but hurricanes have shut it down.  I tied to a wharf for free and met with immigrations and customs, which is one of two people on the island, and was on my way in 20 minutes.  I did walk around the old marina (see photo) and resort.  It must have been one heck of a place at one time.

A cold front was predicted to pass through at midnight with 25+ knots of wind so I went to Grand Cay, which is the next island south of Walker and anchored in the middle of a harbor formed by the four or five cays.  The winds came as expected and the protection was perfect.  I spent a day at the settlement of 200 people.  It appears to be a major fishing and lobster center and has benefited with the closure of Walker Cay.  There are boats everywhere (see photo).  Some work great, while others are left to rot.  The roads are no bigger than alleys and most people drive golf carts around.  This was a great location to wait out the storm, but it is time to see more!!!!!