Sailing from Certain Death

Ok, if that title didn’t get ya then nothing will! As you may know there has been a hurricane heading our way for the whole of our trip. The day we left we didn’t even know if we’d actually go at all. Well, obviously we went and now there’s still a hurricane out there. After happily paying $30 for internet on Chris’ cell phone we finally get a weather update (since I couldn’t pick weather up on the VHF and Norweigan’s cruise ship would’t answer my hails) and thankfully discover that Hurricane Chantel has essentially dissipated. Whew! … BUT there are other storm systems out there. Oh well, we’ll deal with that when they get here. So Friday morning after a breakfast of fish soup and rice we start saiing for the Abacos since the winds are perfect for sailing in that direction. At first it was a nice leisurely sail in sunny weather and partly cloudy skies (great for sailing since it’s not as hot if you have some cloud cover).

Needless to say, as you probably figured out from the title, the beautiful sailing weather didn’t last. The sky darkened and darkened….and darkened….and darkened. Hours of intermittent pouring rain, gale force winds and choppy seas culminated into our frantically lowering the mainsail (which normally takes a grand total of one person and today took 5) and motoring just to keep our nose into the wind. Even with the sails down the wind catching the side of the boat would heel us over to uncomfortable angles. We saw the anometer (wind speedometer) read 40 knots, the most we’ve ever seen sailing (though we’ve seen those speeds at anchor, doing it sailing is another thing). Forty knots doesn’t sound like a lot but think how it would feel if you stuck your head out your car window going over 40 miles an hour. Add in slicing rain, waves, and shallow waters with a potentially hull ripping reef only feet below your keel and you’ve got an… interesting combination.
Let’s just say that when we finally anchored (and not in a harbor no less since we stopped at the first available anchoring area…we won’t go so far as to call it an anchorage since it’s completely exposed) we all dove below for hot tea, popcorn, and calls to loved ones at $3 per minute.
15 pounds of hogfish cakes, 10 pounds of rice and a fifth of ….um… coke…. later, the storm had finally passed and made way for a beautiful, albeit rather rolly evening at anchor.

Author: Jessica Anderson

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