Sailing Adventures of Free Spear-It

Back in the Bahamas

Well, we haven’t fallen off the face of the earth.  A lot of you have been asking what we’ve been up to since our blog mysteriously dried up.  Well, at the end of April we reluctantly returned to somewhat real life at the Yacht Club in Hypoluo. Though all of our northern friends would give their right arm for just a week in our “ideal-Florida-vacation condo complex” it is back to working on our businesses (Spirit Web Development and eBoat Listings).  Leaving all that yucky work stuff out of this story, I’ll summarize- over the past month and a half we’ve bounced between the condo in the Yacht Club and St. Pete with Daryl’s family.  We’re fixing up the condo to rent it out and trying to built up our businesses.  So enough with the boring updates- this week we’ve thrown caution to the wind and joined some of our best friends on an adventure on Free Spearit through the Bahamas, albeit for only a week. After a couple of months of working a LOT after 6 months of goofing off a LOT we are in dire need of another break.  This working thing is harder than it sounds!

Last week Daryl’s cousins, Denise and Evelyn came to visit us from Ohio.  We had so much fun with them! After a couple of days of lots of junk food and Independence day celebrating we drove them across the state to St.Pete to visit with the rest of the family.  Sugar was so happy to be “home” again!  We just helped herself to the food, bed and pool, as if she’d never left.  Sugar, to her immense pleasure, got to stay with Gram and Grandpa while we head to the Bahamas.

Last Monday (4 days ago) we woke up at 5am to head back to Hypoluxo for a day of frantic packing and shopping with the goal of leaving the dock with Darrell, Steve and Chris by 3pm since we needed diesel from the fuel station at the marina down the road which closed at 5 AND we had to scrape the bottom of the boat (to remove the barnacle build-up since that can seriously slow you down when sailing or motoring).  Three oclock came and went and we were still trying to load the boat.  At 4:50 we fratically push off the dock trying to get to the fuel dock before 5… good try but no dice.  Welp, we’ll give up on that one and fill ‘er up at our next port of call. 

Next on the list- bottom scraping using our usual protocol- anchor just inside the inlet on an incoming tide so that it’s calm but clear… again, good try but no dice.  The incoming tide was weak enough that the clear water patch wasn’t big enough for us to anchor in without running aground…. moving on. 

Three hours and 8 bridges later it’s dark, we have less than 1/4 tank of diesel, the boat bottom still looked like an oyster farm (ok, not that bad but it still needed to be scraped), we realized that we had a boat full of junk food and rum- not ONE vegetable or fruit (unless you count potato chips as a vegetable), no condiments, enough pasta for an army and not one jar of pasta sauce and nothing with which to make any sort of sauce, no salt or pepper..I could go on.  After a day of rushing and mishaps everyone was a bit on edge- and we still had to anchor is 4 foot choppy seas and scrape the bottom of the boat in the dark AND there was a hurricane coming! What a start.

As we began our sail to… well, we didn’t know where our destination was since we didn’t know where the hurricane was going.  The plan originally was to go to Freeport, check in to customs and then continue on to the Abacos.  Now our options were everything from the Keys to Cay Sal (south of the Keys), the Bimini chain (the closest chain of Bahamas islands), the Berrys, Abacos, or anywhere in between.  With everyone feeling a bit queezy from the choppy seas and Bratz with jalapeno cheese whiz off we went into the Atlantic feeling out the wind until we decided where to go. 

The next day we finally arrived at the Hens and Chickens, some rocks that break the water’s surface north of Bimini and are rarely visited.  I’ve never seen so many Baracudas in one place! It was like “Birds” but with Baracudas!  And let me tell you, a Baracuda can rip you to shreds a LOT faster that some stupid little bird.  A few hours of snorkeling and spearfishing here and off we go again… again, with no set destination. At some point in our aimless travels we decided to go to North Bimini where we could check in to customs, get a little reprieve from the waves, fill up on diesel and attempt to prevent our imminent malnutrition from a diet of potato chips, goldfish, fritos, doritos, chocolate bars, marshmallows, graham crackers, pringles, chex mix,  cheezits, and cheese whiz (seriously, I’m not exaggerating, I’m looking at the cabinets to be sure I accurately relate our food inventory). 

Wednesday morning we woke up to pouring rain and a wind that sounded like would make you think Dorothy was going to land on the boat any minute.  After a frantic effort to throw everything from the deck inside the boat before it all blew away we hunkered down to wait it out.  A couple hours later we chugged into the fuel dock on North Bimini, checked in to customs/immigration (which, in true Bahamian fashion, took forever- BUT everyone was very, very nice!) Next up, the grocery store.  Steve and I walked the half block to the “store” which consisted of two aisles of canned goods that had probaby been originally ordered by the shop-keeper’s grandmother, a few blocks of cheese with spots of fungus, bread that looked like the cheese and a selection of fruits and veggies that consisted of 4 of the finest specimens of last year’s crops. We enhanced our boat stores with some of  these fine items- 3 small bags of groceries (and 2 of the bags were bread)- for a mere $54.

Moving on we went to 2 different snorkeling spots off the western coast of North Bimini, the second of which was called “Three Sisters”- three rocks surrounded by small reef structure and ledges- perfect for lobstering. Too bad it’s not lobster season….

As evening drew near we pulling anchor and began our 50 mile sail to Moore’s Island in the Abacos.  About 1 hour in, sailing at a blazing fast speed of 1.2 knots with the wind at about 30 degrees off our bow, we throw in the towel, lower the sails and motor toward the Berrys.  I’d love to say it was just another long, uneventful night-time crossing but…
It was raining, windy and lightening so we decided to dine in the salon instead of the cockpit with the autopilot picking up the slack anda few of us popping our heads out every few minutes to keep an eye out for other boats.  But really, what are the chances, in such a huge body of water with such relatively small vessels, that two of these said vessels could collide?   Apparently, the chances are a whole lot higher than we thought. Despite us keeping intermittent watch a 3 tiered yacht snuck up on us.  Chris headed out in the wind and rain to check things out and says.. “uhhhh…. this boat is close…. really close….”  We all hurry onto deck and what we found was way worse than “this boat is really close”. It was more like “let’s find out how much our cheapest-I-could-possibly-find-boat-insurance really covers”.   With Daryl hollering in his very captain-like “everything is under control but do what I”m saying RIGHT now if you want to live!” Voice “Starboard!!” (Which means “right” in boat terms), Chris cranks the wheel to the right.  Unfortunately, the guy on the other boat decides to turn port (left) so we were turning into each other!  I didn’t know this boat could turn so hard and fast.  She performed beautifully and we slipped by the yacht with plenty of room (a few feet) to spare! Disaster averted.

It’s great to be back in the Bahamas, the most beautifu place on Earth!

Author: Jessica Anderson

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