On a brisk morning Aura quietly motored through the Beaufort channel, passing keen fishermen standing waste high in chilled water as the sun rose on the horizon. The air was still as we motored offshore. Tourterelle and Glyde were close by and we were soon joined by another yacht. Everybody’s intentions were clear. All four yachts were on the same course to warm weather and sunshine – Back to the Bahamas.
It wasn’t long until the forecast wind come in, we motor sailed and soon we gained speed and were able to turn the engine off. We had calm seas with an AWA (apparent wind angle) of 60 degrees, our sweet spot. It wasn’t long until we were well ahead of the other yachts. The sun was shining yet we had multiple layers of clothing to keep warm. I think the last time I wore gloves was March last year when boarding in Japan.
We had coordinates (WPT (way points)) to enter and exit the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream is a strong current that runs from the warm waters of the Caribbean/Mexico Gulf along the USA/Canadian coast, crossing the Atlantic towards the UK. This current may be a narrow few miles or more than 100 miles wide. If the wind is against the current the seas may stand tall and be mountainous. With Kim’s careful planning and a third party consultation we had a perfect weather window and a short crossing. That evening before our night shift started, we spoke with the other yachts and settled in for the evening. I was keen to put out the fishing lines as fish are plentiful in these warm currents however it wasn’t conducive on this cold and black night.
That evening the wind shifted more to our nose, so to maintain speed I altered our course missing our entry WPT by 10nm. Our exit was away from the rum line (direct course to Bahamas) yet it was thought to be the fastest. We had a small wind shift and with our new heading we would also miss the exit by a few miles. Not that this would matter, we were soon on a direct course warm weather.
The following day after crossing the Gulf Stream, we were unable to contact the other yachts. Our speed and amended course were the likely factors. As the sun rose and throughout the day we started sheading layers of clothing. I think the warm currents had an influential factor. We continued to sail at a good speed.
On day three, the winds dissipated and we were back to motor sailing. By this time we had discarded our socks and returned to t-shirts. We even had showers on the stern, the first in several months. We could almost smell the Bahaman air. The typical passage routines of sleep, eat, read, watch a movie/tv series continued. That night our perfect wind and sea window was a thing of the past. We had 3 meter seas on our beam (side) as we slammed and rolled our way towards the Bahamas. We continued to reach out to our friends on the radio however we had no reply. Our AIS showed a few passing ships in the distance, there was very little traffic. I remind Kim that we were back in the Bermuda Triangle but there was nothing odd happening with our navigation it was just an uncomfortable ride.
On day four, we closed in on land. We couldn’t see it but we knew it was there. These islands are only a few meters above sea level so it wasn’t until we were a few miles away the sky cleared and we could make out some golden sand and rocks in the distance. Over the radio we heard a familiar voice, it was Derek from Ocean Blue. A few weeks earlier we had both departed Norfolk together however they had set a direct course Abaco. We called them to say hello, told them our current position and arranged to catch up the following day. We could then hear Tourterelle speaking with Derek, they were not far away, just a little further east than our course.
We crossed the passage at Nunjack Chanel with reefed sails into the vivid turquoise protected waters. Coconut Tree Bay (off Rat Cay) looked like a well-protected place to drop the anchor, celebrate with a glass of wine, a swim and much needed sleep.
< we have a technical issue with our Cannon camera thus the limited images >