Cold Fronts in the Bahamas 2-10-10

Cold Fronts in the Bahamas 2-10-10

Not sure when this will get posted but I am writing it on 2-10-10. We arrived at Leaf Cay on 2-6-10 just ahead and during the passing of the previous cold front. We planned our arrival at Leaf Cay so we would have the choice of at least three anchorages to gain protection in the clocking winds of the passing front. We have moved twice since our arrival, once to Lee Stocking Island and then back to Leaf Cay. Today we are experiencing another passage of a cold front with minor squalls but powerful winds. We are thankful to be in the lee of Leaf Cay. Favorable conditions are forecast for a departure tomorrow to arrive at Elizabeth Harbor, Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas.

The wind direction is quite predictable with approaching cold fronts. The wind starts out of the south clocking to the southwest to west and then just as the front passes the winds shift northerly. They can blow for days anywhere from northwest to northeast. There may also be a squall present at the leading edge of the front. When we hear of an approaching front, we start looking at the charts for anchorages that will give us protection and destination points that allow us to sail in the Lee of the islands with favorable winds. We choose to stay put this time as the entrance to Elizabeth Harbor can be extremely hazardous in marginal conditions. The Bahamas Cruisers Guide list not one, not two, but three cautions for this harbor entrance. We will not attempt to enter in any marginal conditions. We are about a 6–8 hour passage from Elizabeth Harbor and we will remain here until the weather settles.

The wind is like nothing I have experienced before. It is not just the velocity but the sounds, the pressure, the vibrations. The wind speed indicator has recorded gusts in excess of 30 mph and sustained winds of 25 mph. Just a few moments ago the hull of the boat was vibrating from the forces of the wind and tidal current. You do not always lay to wind at the anchorage here even with 30+ wind speeds. Mary Rose has been lying at anchor at about 90 degrees to the wind for the past few hours. This is because the tidal current directly opposes the wind and Mary Rose has a full keel. The pressure of the tidal current flowing across her keel generates enough force to oppose the wind. There were times that the anchor chain was slack and we were in a bit of a hovering position directly over the anchor. The wind is pushing one direction and the tidal current pushing the opposite direction.

Our current ground tackle consists of a 45lb CQR anchor and about 60 feet of 3/8 chain. The anchor location is marked with a small round yellow float to give us a reference of where our anchor is dug in and to allow other boaters the ability to see exactly where our anchor is located. The anchor marker is quite helpful in these conditions since we are seldom laying bow to anchor.

So we sit and wait, read, exercise, plan, study and get back some of the time we put in the time bank the last two years. Nobody Moves – Nobody Gets Hurt!!!!!!!

Captain Don Montgomery

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