Jaminican Republic? (Great Inagua, Bahamas to Port Antonio, Jamaica)

Cuba is on our right. Haiti on the left. It takes me a minute to realize that the scattering of lights I see above the horizon are not stars – they’re houses on the *hills* of Cuba. You know you’ve been in the low country for a loooong time when you’re jump-up-and-down excited to see land above sea level!

Bahamas: Beautiful but FLAT!

We spent a week in Great Inagua. We had checked out of George Town, headed for the Dominican Republic, when the weather window started to close. Why not stop and check out a new island, right? Customs at Inagua was great, graciously allowing us to stay despite our clearance, and the inner harbor dock was a solid $10/night. What more could you want??

The $10 dock

The risk of stopping of course was that it gave us some real time to look at the charts. Look at the weather. Look at the charts. Shake our head about the east winds that never stop. And ultimately, begin to question why we were going to fight our way another 300 miles east…

The crazy thing about sailboats is you can adjust your course to suit the winds any time [insert cutesy quote here]. The hard part — for me at least — is the letting go of all the imaginary plans we’d made. The fruit we’d eat, the friends we’d make…

It was one of those decisions that we knew would likely impact the direction of our lives for a few years to come… so we agonized over it for a few days, tossing all possible paths on the table.

Back to Florida? Ship the boat? Truck the boat?! East and north? South to Grenada? Some mad googling of covid restrictions, flights, costs, and weather patterns… and a new path began to emerge: West, not East. Downwind in those steady trades rather than straight into them.

It’s a picture-perfect passage. Broad reaching, clear skies, and 1-2 knots of positive current pushing us through the windward passage. “We’re not going to change our minds and have to beat back into this, right?!” we nervously half-joke to each other, reassuring ourselves that we can just enjoy this passage. Doing this trip in reverse would be… less fun.

This boat looooves wing-on-wing

We thought we were doing a decent job of keeping all this from Zephyr until I asked him if he knew where we were sailing to. “Jaminican Republic?” he replied. #accurate. Sorry your parents are all over the place, kiddo. On the upside, you’ll have a few stories to tell!

As the sun rose this morning, Jamaica came glistening out of the clouds.

Sun-dappled mountains framed dolphins leaping below. Dolphins are my favorite but the MOUNTAINS are really exciting.

We cleared in, bought a courtesy flag (we never planned on coming here!!), and hit the streets for the number one priority: mangoes (by the bag!) and jerk chicken. With a few passion fruit and a sousop thrown in for fun.

I’m not exaggerating when I say I have felt a mild amount of food insecurity for our entire Bahamas travels. Love the country – hate the complete lack of anything resembling fresh produce.

Fresh food market: YES!!! Bring on the haggling 🙂

Jamaica, we are so happy to have this chance to explore your shores!

Worth it (in Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, Bahamas)

Post-chicken drama, we sailed from Fort Lauderdale to Great Harbor Cay, in the Berry Group of the Bahamas.

It was one of those passages you aspire to — 10 knots on the beam, flat seas, sparkly stars, just enough boat traffic to know you’re not alone in the world (maybe I’m the only sailor who is happy to see ships at night but I get lonely quickly!!) and in the end we had to drastically slow ourselves down to arrive with the sunrise and not any earlier.

There have been so many highlights in the last 10 days I don’t know where to begin.

Photo credit: Zak Nuttall
Great Harbour Cay – Mangrove River Trip
Hoffman’s Cay

So I’ll just say that if I could time travel back to sad little Leah of one year ago — the one stuck in a boatyard with projects and broken things all around, wishing she was here — I’d tell her to hold on. Great things are coming.

Hoffman’s Blue Hole
Hoffman’s Blue Hole
9-boat Beach Potluck
Conch are amazing!
Looking S from Hoffman’s Blue Hole

The future is bright beyond belief.

White Cay

And one day you will look at your husband and tell him, “I would redo every day in that boatyard, just for this one week in paradise”.

For anyone who is interested in the cruising / route details…

The dinghy trip through the mangroves in Great Harbour Cay is TIGHT but 100% worth it.

Sailing upwind into trade winds to get around the top of Great Harbor Cay was tough, but hiding behind Soldier Cay felt like we’d arrived. And the reviews about the sharks seem to be accurate — we had three under the boat within minutes of anchoring.

The pass to get behind Hoffmans is also TIGHT but we made it in (5’ draft) with a few 6’ draft friends on a 3’ high tide. Then we felt a little trapped, and took the aptly named “Devils Passage” to get back to an anchorage that wasn’t tidal restricted (by Fowl Cay). Our 6’ friends bumped in the passage, but we actually didn’t see anything below 6’5” and that was on a 2.7’ high. Converting from meters to feet is becoming second nature.

We left the Berries at 6am and lucked out with a straight southerly and one speedy tack to Spanish Wells on Eleuthera. That was our first full day of Hydrovane sailing and Itchy did incredibly well. The motion is noticeably friendlier when the windvane is steering.

We put our much smaller jib on (rather than our big but kinda baggy Genoa) — a job that turned into a day when a loose roll pin in the furler foil had to be bashed back into place via bosuns chair up the mast — and that gave us a nice lift in our ability to point. The winds are always from the SE and we are consistently headed South or East. But if it’s not challenging, it’s not worth doing, right?

Lastly, Papa Scoops ice cream that opens at the ungodly hour of 7pm (we go to bed reeeeal early on Brio II) was worth the late night. There are only two flavor options (Vanilla might be the best) but they’ll let you taste test if you ask nicely.

We don’t know exactly where we’re headed this week, but that’s all part of the fun.

And yes, this is the first time I’ve had full bars of signal and I am excited to be connected again 🙂