Overnight Passage, Various Groundings and Eventual Anchorage

Day Two on the Open Ocean between Florida and Bahamas

The family had a leisurely breakfast before weighing anchor and motoring through the Fort Pierce Inlet, out of the Intercoastal Waterway and into the Atlantic Ocean. After following the shoreline south in the early afternoon, we turned the ship southwest and bore toward the Bahamas, some ten hours away.

The night was long and uneventful, and the watch system was in effect, Mom and Dad on one three-hour watch, Aaron and I on the other. Indeed, the night was notable only for an hour or two of brilliant stars that thickly dusted the sky for nearly an hour after the moon set. The Milky Way was clearly visible as a rich band of stars spanning the heavens directly above.

Gradually the sky grew lighter and the sun rose, as we passed over the Grand Bahama Bank and into shallower waters. Aiming for an anchorage near Walker Cay, we picked our way gingerly through waters littered with rocks and shoals. Less than a mile from our destination, our progress was halted as we ran aground in sand and grass off of Walker Cay. Despite our best efforts and those of a local in a motorboat, we were unable to dislodge ourselves. The tides were such that we were stuck until the evening, and we tried to make the most of it by swimming and reading.

Near seven, we floated off the bottom and followed another friendly fellow in a dinghy through an ominous-looking channel between pillars of low and spindly rocks. Once in the protected waters, we again hit sand with our keel, but backed off of it immediately. Unsatisfied with the depth of the harbor, we turned and left it by the same channel, following our guide and the shoreline for a mile. We rewarded the affable mariner for his help with a bottle of Singapore’s finest, Tiger Beer.

Wary of getting stuck again, we turned to starboard and went some distance further from land, dropping the anchor in fourteen feet of water. Though not in any sheltered harbor, the wind was light and the anchorage enjoyable as we swam off the boat to combat the fierce heat. After a delectable dinner of mashed potatoes, chicken, and vegetables, the crew went to bed early.

The next day saw us pull up the anchor and head for Grand Sale Cay, to the southeast. Having decided not to enrich the Bahaman treasury $300 further for a cruising permit, we resolved to steer clear of ports of entry. We also decided to return to Florida a day earlier than previously planned so that Aaron and I could provision for our trip up the Eastern seaboard.

We anchored in the late afternoon on the northwest side of Great Sale Cay, between two other boats. I snorkeled ashore and Aaron took the dinghy. On the beach, we discovered many pieces of trash, bottles, oil jugs, and an old, red milk crate with the severed head of a doll in it. Its dismembered arms and legs were near it on the shore, and its eyes were corroded beneath its blond locks, forming a truly frightening scene. The inhospitable shore was covered in thick brush, with small birds and flies being the only signs of life on the hellscape.

Leave a Reply