Georgetown Bahamas to Rum Cay, 2-16-10

First….this is not a “how to” on the passage from Georgetown to Rum Cay, but rather a review of our own experience aboard Mary Rose V.

Next….. a word on Georgetown…….Georgetown seems to be the “in” destination for hundreds of cruisers in the Bahamas. There is a cruiser net every morning about 8 AM after Chris Parker weather reports. The cruiser’s net is the boaters version of the famed tradeo program in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The net starts out with a good morning from the daily host with a short bit of recorded music that has something to do with current events. An example of this is the day it rained they played, it feels like rain drops fallen from the sky. Then the daily net schedule goes something like this…….weather report gleaned from Chris Parker, Advertisements of local businesses, Boaters general (buy, sell, barter, trade). Note: It is illegal for cruisers to buy, sell, barter, trade without paying duty in the Bahamas. Then the net continues with boats departing and new arrivals. It is a bit too much for us but we did manage to procure a Sony Single Sideband receiver from a cruiser using the net. Now we can get National Weather Service reports as well as Chris Parker. Georgetown in general is way too over populated with cruisers in our humble opinion. All the people and boats was a bit of overload after cruising the remote cays of the Bahamas where we were often the only cruiser at anchor or in sight. Then there was the typical suburban gossip chain at the dinghy dock with grown men standing around doing a bit of “he said – she said” about rumors of permanent moorings in the harbor. There are all sorts of social events scheduled everyday. Volleyball, bachie(sp), basket weaving (not lying), to meeting the family film producer from New York. Phewwwwwwwwww, this is way to much, got to get out of here! It was a great place to replenish food, fuel and water before we set out to more remote islands and longer legs of our journey south and east. With that said we are glad to leave the suburban cruising lifestyle behind.

We pulled anchor Monday night about two hours before dark and made our way south to Foul Cay at the south end of Elizabeth Harbor. This would save us about two miles the next day and allow us an early start to make the pass through the channel cut at day break. We found two other boats anchored in the Foul Cay area and snuggled in close to them for the night. We had a quick dinner and hit the bunk for a 5AM alarm.

We were up early and admired the beautiful predawn sky displaying hues of pink and orange through mostly cloudy skies. We just knew we were going to have a great sail. We had the perfect weather forecast from Chris Parker and we had followed Van Sant’s (author of passages south) instructions to the last letter for the perfect weather window and the pre trip staging at Foul Cay. The Admiral took the helm as I pulled the anchor and she made good speed from our anchorage to the harbor through the cut and out into the sound with a perfect pass, right on course. We talked about how this looked like a perfect opportunity to set the cruising spinnaker and have a great sail to Rum Cay, 50 miles to the east around the northern point of Long Island. We decided to delay the Spinnaker set and opted for full main, a yankee head sail and the staysail. We had all three sails set and were making top speeds of 6+ nautical miles (nm) per hour. The winds began to build and a squall line appeared some 20 – 30 miles to our north. We discussed pulling a reef in the main but decided that we were OK and the squall line was far enough away to give us time if conditions warranted. The winds were out of the northwest and we were on a northeast course when the winds began to build and our heeling angle was a bit uncomfortable. We completely reefed the yankee head sail and proceeded with only the main and staysail. Our boat speed continued to exceed 6+ kts with main and staysail. It was not too late to reef the main but we choose not to as the boat was sailing upright and under control given the angle of the wind and swells. It was a comfortable ride. As we approached Santa Maria point on the north end of Long Island the wind driven troughs of the waves and swells increased dramatically and we were seeing 10-12 ft seas.

These conditions continued until we reached the lee of Rum Cay. Or maximum speed on this passage was an astonishing 9.6 kts with a moving average of over 6 kts. NO MORE BAD JOKES ABOUT THE WESTSAIL BEING SLOW.

One big mistake we made on this passage was that we towed the dinghy rather that put her on deck. We will not make long open water passages again towing the dinghy. The seas and wind were way too much to go looking for a dinghy that might have broken loose in transit.

All in all, it was a great passage and we are at anchor at Rum Cay waiting for the next weather window to make our way south to the Dominican Republic (DR). We will most likely make one or two more stops before making landfall in the DR.

Captain Don Montgomery

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