There and Back Again

After a winter southern sojourn, it's time for the crew of Lyra to head back north.

There comes a time in every cruise, I imagine, where ready or not one needs to head in the direction of home. And so it was for us a few weeks ago. Since we began this winter sabbatical in November, all of my thoughts have been with getting south. Turning north again seemed like an afterthought, something that was really far away. But here we are, back in Cocoa, Florida, closing a circle of sorts from our track through here in mid-January.

Lyra_, anchored off Great Guana Cay._

We left George Town, in the southern Bahamas, several weeks ago knowing that we needed to be back in the States by roughly the second week in March. Our weather window looked decent for a run back up the chain, and we did it with only a few stops, futilely trying to stay in "cruising" mode instead of "delivery" mode. We knew we needed to stop at Black Point, mostly because our laundry situation was completely out of hand (we'd been losing ground for a few weeks by only doing scant loads in the sink by hand. It was time to bring in the big guns -- real washing machines).

The most perfect laundromat in the Bahamas.

From the cruiser mindset, the small settlement of Black Point has lots going for it, namely the gorgeous laundromat with a dinghy dock. But on our way there, passing the southern end of the backside of Great Guana Cay, I suggested that we stop for the night in a more secluded anchorage before heading into busy Black Point the next day. This proved to be a great decision as this was one of the most beautiful nights of our entire trip, hands down. Caitlin and Juliana helped gather driftwood and we built a nice fire on the beach and even cooked our dinner on it. To top it off, the sunset even had the elusive green flash-- only the second one I've seen in my lifetime.

A seriously perfect night

A gorgeous sail up to Highborne Cay came after laundry day. We dropped anchor close to a reef so we could swim over to it for a last dose of snorkeling. I should mention that I had a small "bucket list" of sorts of things that I still hoped for before leaving the Bahamas - I wanted to spot a sea turtle, preferably while snorkeling, see a tropicbird, and have a Nassau grouper for dinner. Remarkably all these things happened in a 24-hour period. The reef by Highbourne was surprisingly vibrant and seemed healthy. The enormous loggerhead turtle that I saw there was resting on the bottom, and fortunately wasn't spooked by our presence, so the kids got to check him out too. The next day while sailing to Nassau, we were threading our way around coral heads on the Yellow Bank when Green says that he's going to jump overboard on one of the heads and try for a grouper as this was likely our last chance. I had my doubts whether he'd be successful (our fishing luck on this journey has been less than stellar). Within minutes of jumping in on the second head, however, I ate my words as I spot Green swimming back to the boat - with a gorgeous Nassau grouper on the end of his spear. Dinner that night was a delicious feast and the perfect ending to our time in the Bahamas.

With time not on our side, we left Nassau for our passage to Cape Canaveral, Florida. Since we are heading back north, we decided to ride the Gulf Stream a little bit instead of heading back to Lauderdale. The crossing was our longest one so far with the kids -- two nights, two days. The first night, when we were sailing across the banks was gorgeous -- absolutely everything one could want in a night sail: flat water, good breeze from aft of the beam, stars to the horizon, excellent boat speed, minimal traffic. In a word, magic. The Stream crossing was less so, with the seas still lumpy and confused from the strong northerly the day before. But it didn't last long, and it was daylight, so there's that. After an uneventful night motorsailing up the coast, we made it to the inlet at Cape Canaveral by mid morning and were done with customs formalities by lunch time. The kids did great on the passage (each overnight has been getting easier), but we parents still ended up incredibly tired.

Sunset before sailing across the banks

And there we were, anchored in Cocoa, Florida, roughly 6 weeks after we left. Our time in the Bahamas was even better than I thought it would be (with our time constraints, I'd had my doubts if we'd even make it past the Berry Islands), with better swimming and sailing than I could have hoped for and some great new friends and experiences for the girls (well, all of us really).

With my apologies to Bilbo over the title of this post, while we may not have slain any dragons on our adventure, we certainly are coming home with plenty of treasures.