It’s a long story but we’re finally in the BAHAMAS!
After two failed attempts at making the 120 mile passage from Marathon to Bimini Bahamas the third time’s a charm. We turned Pepper around the first time because the raw water (seawater) intake for the engine was plugged up. We encouraged our friends on Last Tango to continue sailing. We’d find another buddy boat. Trent tore the water line to the engine apart and discovered a strange looking piece of seaweed. The very next day we pulled up the anchor and wound up in a gale. No where on the forecasts that we watch was that supposed to happen. We were fine but the sea was unfriendly and not at all conducive to getting across so we limped back into Boot Key Harbor for the second time in two days.
At this point we were beginning to wonder if we should skip Bahamas altogether. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be; there’s a thousand other places we could sail to, afterall. But luck would have it that we met up with some friends on our new anchorage that we met way back in Mobile, where we did Pepper’s refit. Blue Dolphin and Hobo bumped up our spirits and we were motivated to try for the Bahamas once again. They buddied with us to the Bahamas.
You can pretty much guess where this story is going. None of our long passages have been this perfect sailing weather that people speak of or that you read about in books. I’m not sure if that ever happens. Though it did start out that way but then by nightfall the wind picked up much more than forecasted and instead of being Southeast it was mostly East, which put Pepper’s nose just pounding into 35 knots of wind battling 12 to 15 foot seas. As if that wasn’t enough of a test, we entered the Gulf Stream. The Stream added 3 knots of current pushing us hard to the North. It got scary real fast.
With our life jackets on, struggling to hang on in the cockpit, we worked the boat as best as we could. I was at a complete loss and ready to call the cruise ship that was in sight to pick us up.(just kidding 🙂 Trent prevailed. He always does. We couldn’t hold our course, though I was impressed by how little we actually fell off, costing us only about 6 hours. When the sun came up the next morning we were praising God that the staysail hadn’t ripped apart like we thought. I just knew it was ripped. We both saw it happen as we sat helpless in the cockpit. The lines got knotted up and we couldn’t roll it up and there was no way in hell we were going out on the deck to untangle the lines and risk our lives. The main was reefed, as we always do before the sunsets on our crossings, but we should have had the storm sail out for that one.
After being wide awake and pumped full of adrenalin, we were completely drained as Pepper motored into Bimini. It’s funny how we already knew everyone on anchorage here and saw Last Tango at the marina pulling in, giving us a feeling of comfort. It was so nice to be welcomed in by friends and directed to our anchorage. La Luna picked Trent up and took him to customs to check in. I had to stay on the boat until we were cleared. The officers were friendly and didn’t search the boat, which was good since everything got thrown around down below and looked like a disaster. To celebrate we jumped in the water and snorkeled around the boat. The water is so clear! We could see the bottoms and propellers of all the boats anchored around us. Then Trent saw a large 8 foot bull shark about 20 feet away from us and that persuaded us to get out of the water for the evening. Mike and Gigi (Last Tango) revitalized us by going all out and grilling steaks, chicken and potatoes, all of which we scarfed down like starving animals. True friends. I was still falling into things hours after anchored. My body was still swaying. I think I was sleeping before my head hit the pillow.
Today is a new day and it’s so strange being here. I mean, we made it to the Bahamas. Trent just raised our official Bahamas flag, showing our support for the country and that we have cleared customs, and we’re about to start cleaning Pepper up. It looks like a tornado hit in here. This afternoon, we’ll go snorkeling and then I must find a real rum Pina Colada. Oh, and by the way, it’s been one month since we pulled into a marina and tied the lines to a dock. I can’t believe it. I’m really proud of how far we’ve come.