Cruising in Fast Forward
Cruising in Fast Forward
Cruising in fast forward is the only way I can describe the trip I just came back from. I signed on as crew to help deliver a Nautitech 542 catamaran, Greenboat 1, from Miami to the Caribbean (I only had a week to give, however, so I unfortunately had to jump ship in George Town, Bahamas). What makes this trip a little different is that the captain of the boat is my brother-in-law, Jesse, and we had sailed these waters before, 10 years ago. So this trip was part delivery, but with a dose of fun in there too.
We left Miami after the boat show on the evening of February 21 and headed out Government Cut around sundown, happy to be under way. The wind was blowing of course from the east, so we motored into it making for a super-splashy ride across the Gulf Stream. I'll admit that it's been a while since I've been on night watch, and this boat is a far cry from the boat that I last did this trip on (a 1965 Pearson Vanguard), so I was a little bit intimidated. Since the conditions were snarly and we were in a busy shipping lane and most of us were new to the boat, we doubled up for watches that night. Sleeping was almost impossible with the pounding, but we managed, and had an uneventful crossing and were on the Bahama Banks by daybreak. Having a full complement of crew is a luxury, and we dropped down to single watches around this time. With six people that meant two hours on and 10(!) hours off. How civilized.
Other than Jesse and myself, the crew included my friend and co-worker David, Amanda, who's been crewing on the boat with Jesse since its launch last fall in France, James, a really experienced sailor and old friend of Jesse's, and Jacob, a newbie to sailing.
We set out the fishing lines and caught a gorgeous mahi-mahi before anchoring off of tiny Green Cay, just off of Rose Island, near Nassau. Delivery portion done for the day, we set about to more cruisey-type activities such as watching Captain Ron in the cockpit and serving up the catch of the day. The next day allowed us some sleeping-in time followed by pancakes and scrubbing the hull. Need I mention that two 54-foot hulls are huge underwater? Fortunately, there's a great reef nearby, and we got in some excellent snorkel time that included a sea turtle sighting.
Once the light was good enough for coral head spotting, we weighed anchor and headed toward the cruising paradise of the Exumas. But first we had to cross the Yellow Bank. While the Bahamas are fairly well charted, the waters are also quite shallow and filled with reefs, coral heads, and sand bores, and the Yellow Bank can be a stressful stretch of water. Good, polarized sunglasses are key as is a sharp lookout.