April 22 – May 11, 2018
Our first trip ashore was a bit of a disaster.
We made the poor decision to head in with ominous dark clouds looming just above us.
Within moments of pushing off from Exit in our dinghy, the clouds began to unleash a torrent of rain upon us. We pushed ahead, and managed to get ashore for some provisions but ended up absolutely soaked in exchange.
Furthermore, on the way back to the Mothership, as we were fighting against a rather stout breeze coming right at us, we were mortified when a loud clunk came form the outboard motor and it promptly died on us. No amount of pulling on the starting cord could get it going again.
As we began rowing in vain against the wind, making no forward progress at all, we noticed a guy on a catamaran anchored near us approaching us in his dinghy.
“Have Kris hand me your line; I’ll tow you back to your boat,” he said to me as he arrived. Perplexed, we realized he knew who we were, but it took a moment longer for us to recognize who had come to our rescue. It was Jay, who we had met with his wife Tami at Loraine’s all-you-can-eat buffet at Black Point, just days before… what a stroke of good luck and timing.
We spent a substantial amount of time hanging out with Jay and Tami during our stay at George Town, becoming quite close friends with them. They continued to provide vast amounts of insight and advice to us, regarding both the Bahamas and cruising in general.
Later, after struggling to once again resuscitate our Yamaha outboard, we discovered that our poor Yamamama was, and, as far as we could determine, always had been running on only one of it’s two cylinders since we had first revived it in Annapolis eight months earlier. This led us to the sad conclusion that it was finally time to cough up the money for a new outboard.
We had seen this as eventually inevitable. Though our current 8hp engine had served to get us slowly to and from shore, we knew that to carry dive gear to and from more distant locations we would need something bigger. And, ultimately, having a reliable outboard was as paramount to us as having a reliable car was to a dirt dweller.
In addition, being in the Bahamas provided the opportunity to acquire a two-stroke engine, something no longer available in the States. Though not as environmentally friendly as a four-stroke, a 15hp two-stroke would give us the extra power needed to get up on a plane while carrying heavy dive gear, yet still be small enough to lift by hand and fit in the stern locker. It was also cheaper. So, we gave the George Town economy a $2300 boost and found ourselves the proud owners of a new Yamaha 15hp two-stroke outboard motor which we dubbed Y’mama. For now, the Yamamama went into storage with an as yet undetermined future.
The Family Island Regatta was a blast. Watching the traditional local sailboats compete for three days was most entertaining, and we spent hours on the water amongst a virtual armada of onlookers following the racers around in dinghies. On land, dozens of small fish shacks and bars were set up making it a very festive atmosphere.
Fantastic BBQ ribs, freshly made conch salads, and plenty of Bahamian Kalik (pronounced Click) and Sands beers were to be had. Kris was even given a straw hat by a very kind, if not slightly strange and intoxicated, Bahamian who proudly claimed he had been an extra playing the role of one of the pirates on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean alongside Johnny Depp. We had trouble confirming this, but can confirm that he was definitely one of the people passed out, asleep on a stool at one of the bars, later that day.
Then, within a couple of days of the Family Islands Regatta concluding, the harbor just outside Georgetown began to empty in a mass exodus.
For the majority of boaters, it was time to head back to the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Hurricane season loomed in the not to distant future, enticing many to vacate while the getting was good. Many had merely reached the end of their boating season and were headed back to the reality of their dirt dweller existence.
For us, our insurance didn’t dictate we be out of the Bahamas until July 15 (at which point they said if you stay, you aren’t covered in the event of a hurricane and we reserve the right to drop your insurance cause you’re obviously not an exceptionally smart policy holder).
This gave us the opportunity to spend some time at anchor in a nearby area known as Red Shanks (completely uninhabited and empty except for a couple of other boats) as well as go for a more extensive land exploration in a rental car with Jay, Tami, and their good friend Ashley who had come to visit them.
Our longer-term intention was soon to continue south to Long Island while we still had time.
Unfortunately, the prevailing winds would not cooperate. After waiting and waiting without any shift in wind direction forecasted in the foreseeable future, we bagged the idea of continuing southeast.
We could have done it motoring the whole way. However, we had become more and more adamant about sailing more and motoring less, which required a shift in perspective, a willingness to rethink strategies, and oftentimes a serious dose of patience.
As sailors, we were beginning to realize that sometimes destinations should be sought out not because that’s where you wanted to go, but rather because that’s where the wind would let you sail.
An evolution, of sorts, for us…
If the wind continues to come from the southeast, don’t get pissed off and certainly don’t resort to relying on engine power to buck the wind. It’s much easier, and oftentimes much more productive and rewarding, to readjust your thinking and simply head west… or north… or southwest… or northeast…
This sounds obvious but takes a bit of internal adjusting to fully begin to appreciate.
We met someone who told us bluntly, if they couldn’t make 6 knots sailing they fired up their engine… period. Their boating endeavors probably lasted no more than a few months each year.
To us, this seemed unfathomable. We aspire to be sailors, not motorers. And wind is free, diesel is not.
Longterm cruising on a very limited and finite budget requires that we reign in our spending constantly. Expenses must remain as low as realistically possible (safety and maintenance are the two priorities that we don’t shortchange).
And we have quickly learned that one of the easiest ways for a cruiser to reduce expenses is to not turn the ignition key unless absolutely necessary.
And so, we readjusted our thinking and decided that, given the persistent wind direction, maybe Long Island wasn’t currently the best choice for us.
Further discussion brought us to the conclusion that it made much more sense to backtrack northwest through the Exumas until we could jump off and head towards Eleuthera.
And so the plan was set.