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Bahamas to Bermuda

By Sue Richards last modified Oct 22, 2009 08:09 PM

Published: 2009-10-22 20:09:08
Topics: Atlantic Ocean West
Countries: Bahamas , Bermuda

We arrived in the Bahamas having crossed the Gulf stream in company with friends and we leave them in Morgans Bluff and head out in the early hours of the morning into the tongue of the ocean, as this deep piece of water is called, and head southwards and across the shallow banks to Highbourne Cay.

Exuma Cays National Park

One night anchored here then on southwards to Warderick Wells a beautiful spot in the middle of the Exuma Cays National park. Here we pick up a mooring ball which we reserve by calling ahead on the VHF radio. It costs us $15 a night and we stay for 2 nights before departing for Cat Island to meet more friends.

Sailing across Exuma sound we arrive off the south east corner of Cat Island early in the morning and make our way east along the shoreline to rendezvous in a isolated but sheltered bay almost at the SE tip of the island. We follow them back to the anchorage in behind the reef in Port Howe where we anchor in about 2 meters of water with the anchor well held in deep soft sand.

This anchorage seems to be a closely guarded secret that no cruising boats seem to know of, it is well protected from all directions, a wide shallow reef to the south, land to the north and east, to the west you are so far up behind the reef that only a little swell would make its way in. The gap in the reef is 100 yards wide and we saw no less than 4 meters depth. There are only 2 or 3 local boats here but enough room for 50 or more. Not listed in any of the cruising guides which usually refer to Cat Island as a fair weather destination only having no shelter from the West, there are a few local businesses on shore to provide basic essentials. A few locals would like to develop this bay as a cruising destination and I have forwarded details to Explorer Chartbooks.

Georgetown

On to Georgetown, the cruising capital of the Bahamas. We were here in 2006 and enjoyed the social life on volleyball beach where each afternoon cruisers gather to play games and just hang out. People we met 3 years ago were their again making the voyage south each summer to escape the cold winter further north. We are able to play Bridge again most afternoons or Dominoes.

It is also Regatta time in Georgetown and Bermudan sloop boats gather here from all over the island for a week of racing and festivities. Racing is in 3 classes with varying sizes of boats and number of crew, these boats are seriously over canvassed and rely on ballast in the keel and crew perched way outboard on moveable planks of wood. When the wind gets up later in the week the racing is spectacular with at least one boat sinking at the windward mark. Recovered from the shallow water later.

Life in the Bahamas is expensive, but having provisioned in the USA not prohibitively so. After the regatta we begin to look for a weather window to head the 800 miles NE to Bermuda - and at the end of the month it looks promising with lighter winds once we are 90 miles north of Georgetown.

Heading to Bermuda

We leave with 15-20 knots of wind from the east and head north on a fast, wet and bumpy beam reach north up Exuma Sound and make 70 miles in 11 hours to anchor off Little San Salvador for the night before finally departing the next morning.

The winds are already less as we leave the next day but we make progress towards the NNE expecting all the time for the winds to go South of East. It is a frustrating trip with the winds constantly on the nose but fairly light. We are getting weather forecasts from Herb on 12395 mhz and he encourages us to get further north. Finally on the 5th day out the winds shift to the Southwest and increase 15-20 knots and we make good progress as we get nearer to Bermuda, finally arriving about 7pm just before dark on or 8th day out.

Bermuda

Clearing customs is easy but entry costs us $70. We anchor for the night among a lot of other boats all either heading Trans-Atlantic like us, or to the US coast.

We have been to Bermuda before and nothing has really changed on shore. St. Georges is a delightful mix of old buildings preserved by the Bermudan National Trust.

Anchoring out is OK with good holding in the anchorage but the dinghy trip ashore becomes extremely wet as the wind shifts around and increases. Wandering around we find we can tie alongside the wall off Summers Quay for no charge and this we do, at least now we can get ashore dry. We are a tourist spectacle however, and we find ourselves answering the same questions from countless tourists wandering along the quay. The most frequently asked question being about our wind generator on the back of the boat, apparently some think this propels us along. We have another boat rafted alongside and 3 more boats just ahead of us.

The weather has not been looking good with constant easterly winds and weather systems moving through so we spend the time enjoying the island. We go to the beach to swim and snorkel and although the water is colder than we are used to snorkelling around the rocks is interesting. I find a large octopus. We also visit the aquarium and zoo a 40 minute bus ride away, it is interesting and well laid out.

Finally it is time to go, the winds look favourable and we leave for the 1700-mile trip to the Azores.

Roy and Sue Potter
SY Vindomar

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