We completed the return trip from the Bahamas to Florida and up the east coast to Cape Cod in just under four weeks. That’s pretty quick for a solo sailor in a moderately slow boat. My strategy was to keep moving every day even if that meant occasionally motoring a frustratingly slow and shallow inside route rather than sailing offshore. In the end this approach proved to be the most efficient way to utilize the scarce and brief weather windows of April.
From Bimini we sailed direct to Fort Pierce. Arriving at 0300, we anchored and entered the US using an iPhone app. No paperwork, no interview. Just press a button, wait 15 minutes, and get a text saying “welcome home.” After a few hours sleep we were underway again heading north on the Florida ICW.
High winds and rough seas kept us inshore for much of Florida, a bit of South Carolina, bypassing Cape Hatteras and the full length of the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. We did have great offshore sailing from Fernandina to Charleston, Little River to Cape Fear, Wrightsville Beach to Beaufort, and Cape May to Cape Cod. The last leg was a bit over 48 hours and 265 nm — and we sailed all but a few hours of it. Nice way to end a great trip
After two months in the beautiful Bahamas its time to head towards home.
Andante and I have a long trip ahead and, frankly, photography and blogging have not been high on my list of priorities. I will try to keep folks updated on my whereabouts and will share interesting experiences. Eventually.
We departed the Exumas on April 5. Today (April 20) we arrived at Little River Inlet close to the border between South Carolina and North Carolina and roughly the halfway point of the 1500 nm return trip. The weather hasn’t been conducive to long offshore legs but we keep pushing forward everyday regardless.
The legs completed so far have been the following:
Staniel Cay, Exumas to West Bay, New Providence
West Bay, New Providence to North Bimini
North Bimini to Fort Pierce, FL
Fort Pierce, FL to Melbourne, FL
Melbourne, FL to New Smyrna Beach, FL
New Smyrna Beach, FL to St. Augustine, FL
St. Augustine, FL to Fernandina Beach, FL
Fernandina Beach, FL to Charleston, SC
Charleston, SC to Price Creek, SC
Price Creek, SC to Georgetown, SC
Georgetown, SC to Little River Inlet, SC
As always you can check our current position using the link found on the trip page.
Hosting successive guests after six months alone was a blast. It was really fun to share the places I’ve explored, the foods I’ve enjoyed and the endless sunshine. I think both of my guests agreed that any visit to the Bahamas measured in days or weeks is too short. Thanks for coming!
Over the last couple of months I’ve had the chance to appreciate the similarities between living on a boat and on a small remote island. Life in either environment requires management of a fairly basic set of resources. Food, water, fuel and supplies/parts are key inputs — and all are in limited supply, expensive, and available irregularly and infrequently.
Like some boats, many islands (including Staniel Cay) have their own reverse-osmosis water plant powered by either electricity (locally generated from diesel fuel) or solar power. Andante does not have a water maker so I lug 10 gallons (80 lbs) of water from shore every few days.
Trash and sewage accumulates and generates bugs and smells on both boat and island if not regularly offloaded, buried, burned, or otherwise dealt with. I did not see any evidence of recycling in the central Exumas but did find myself anchored downwind of the dump on several occasions. Based on the number of derelict cars and machinery strewn about the islands I expect the cost of shipping waste off the island is prohibitive.
Visiting boaters deal with these resource issues as best they can knowing they will eventually relocate to somewhere else where food and supplies are plentiful and water is free and poop disappears down a pipe never to be thought of again. But the islanders have to live with these constraints all the time. The friendly laid-back nature and great patience of the out-island Bahamians seems a perfect coping mechanism for the many things they cannot control.
Some days ago we sailed a few hours south to Little Farmers Cay, a small island with minimal services that has not yet been fully corrupted by tourists and comfort-seeking cruisers. I hesitated to make the trip because this can be a tricky area to approach in a deep-draft boat. In the end I decided to anchor Andante far away and dinghy in to avoid the shallows and strong currents. We found a nice spot in the lee of Great Guana Cay about 1.5 miles north of Little Farmers and just north of Oven Rock.
Oven Rock is a big chunk sitting by itself on the beach of Great Guana Cay. The rock has an almost rectangular hollow in the western face that does make it sort of resemble an oven. Our reason for visiting wasn’t the rock but a very pleasant hike across the island with a stop in a cool cave in the middle. There is a freshwater pool in the cave that is supposed to be swimmable and diveable. I did neither but did enjoy the cool air and the intricate rock formations. The view of Exuma Sound was pretty spectacular from the rocky windward beach.
Then I took dinghy another mile or so south to Little Farmers Cay. First stop was the Farmers Cay Yacht club to look around and take a long walk. The only connection to town from the yacht club requires walking the length of the 3000 ft runway — but the runway is open on three sides to beautiful blue water so it was a very enjoyable walk to nowhere. At the southern end I turned around and walked back, then used dinghy to go a little further south to the cute and quiet government dock that was swarming with sea turtles. No throngs of tourists or visiting cruisers here — yet — which makes the whole place feel more remote than it really is. Which is just fine with me.