Having completed most of the long-deferred house jobs, it was nice to get back out on Andante and enjoy some time on the water with family. The weather on Cape Cod is still a bit cool (especially compared to The Bahamas) but there have been some nice sunny days and the popular anchorages are still uncrowded.
Last weekend we set off for a nice overnight in Hadley Harbor, just south of Woods Hole and nestled between several of the privately-owned Elizabeth Islands (Naushon, Nonamesset, and Uncatena). This is a favorite anchorage of many throughout New England and we are fortunate to have it in our backyard. We had an easy motorsail down in light winds and spent a very pleasant afternoon reading and sunning punctuated by a visit from our friends on Space Puppy. We enjoyed a yummy supper that involved a great deal of kale and a quiet night. To avoid disturbing the neighbors I rowed Captain Nicholas to shore just after sunrise. The wind picked up a bit later in the morning and made for a very pleasant sail home.
We’re hoping to sail as many weekends as possible this summer and expect to be visiting many of our favorite spots including Cuttyhunk and Martha’s Vineyard. As time permits we hope to make some some longer trips to Nantucket, Newport and beyond.
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
Bimini was very enjoyable. The Bimini Big Game Club is a great facility and very comfortable. I could easily have stayed for several more days to explore the town and the neighboring islands but a nice weather forecast got me moving again.
We left Bimini yesterday around noon with the high slack tide. The wind and seas were just perfect for a sail north around the island and onto the shallow bank. The water was so clear I could clearly see individual starfish on the seabed and the shadow of Andante’s mast on the sandy bottom. Around sunset the wind died completely and many of the hours of darkness were spent drifting under a crystal clear sky and coordinating passing maneuvers with freighters and mailboats. Altogether very pleasant.
This morning we reached the Berry Islands and found a nice one-night anchorage between Frazer’s Hog Cay and Bird Cay. One-night because its a bit rolly and both islands are private so not much to explore. But that’s ok since we’ll be leaving again in the morning for 5-hour trip to a small harbor on the western end of New Providence (Nassau is on the northeastern side of the same island). Then there will be just one more day-long passage to the northern Exuma Cays where I hope to spend several weeks exploring, hiking, and snorkeling.
My communications capabilities will be a bit limited for the next few weeks. I hope to have cell coverage in most places — but not everywhere. So I anticipate there may be some delays in updating this blog. Thanks for your patience.
Fort Pierce to Lake Worth Inlet / Palm Beach to Miami.
It was time to move on. The weather windows have been few, far between and brief. To improve our chances for a near-term crossing to the Bahamas we set off for Miami with an intermediate stop in Lake Worth / Palm Beach.
We left Lake Worth early the next morning. The gusty east wind made for a sporty sail with seas building from 3-4 ft in the morning to 5-7 by the evening. It was lumpy and at times uncomfortable but the conditions made for some of the best pure sailing we’ve had on this entire voyage. We made great time with typical speeds above 7 kts and seeing 8-9 kts occasionally when surfing down a wave. Good fun.
After picking our way through the shallow waters near the mouth of the Miami River we anchored just off the beach south of the Rickenbacker Causeway. This less-than-perfect anchorage (noisy, smelly, wavy) is intentional and temporary. Because of the recent weather there is a substantial population of boats down here waiting on a window to cross to the Bahamas. Rather than try to squeeze into a more favorable but crowded anchorage late in the day we chose to hang out somewhere easy and well-protected. But definitely not quiet. And definitely smelly (Virginia Key sewage treatment plant is nearby and upwind). Tomorrow morning we’ll move to a more peaceful and secure location to make final preparations for the jump across the Gulf Stream.
Temperatures here are consistently in the 60’s and 70’s. Barefoot at last.
This week’s gale finally blew itself out. I was glad to leave Fernandina Beach yesterday morning with the ebb tide and get back to sailing south. Fernandina seemed like a nice town but I wasn’t able to explore ashore because of the weather so my impression is based entirely on what could be seen (and smelled) from the harbor.
This leg of the trip was about 170 nm offshore between Fernandina Beach and Port Canaveral. When we were able to sail it was glorious. The wind was sometimes perfect for sailing (12-15 kts on or just behind the beam) and othertimes made sailing impossible (2 kts on the nose). Fortunately Andante is blessed with not only a capable sailing rig but a workhorse engine and substantial fuel tankage. I’m happy to use whatever works to keep us moving.
On our way south we passed Jacksonville at lunchtime, St. Augustine at sunset, Daytona Beach at midnight, and Cape Canaveral at dawn. Since more than half of the trip was at night without much to see I don’t have too many photos to share.
When its dark I spend much of my time below watching the radar and AIS targets on the chart plotter. I pop up briefly to scan the horizon every 10 minutes or so. When all sources indicate that nothing will be happening for 20-30 minutes — no traffic, no buoys, we’re not approaching a coastline, etc. — I set a (very loud) kitchen timer and take a (very short) nap.
We pulled into Port Canaveral shortly after noon, got some fuel at a marina inside the heavily industrial port, and then went under a drawbridge and through a lock into the Indian River and a completely different world.
The anchorage I chose for tonight is right next to the western exit of the lock in a shallow area of the Indian River Lagoon / Banana River just teeming with wildlife. Pelicans, herons, all sorts of small birds and more dolphins than I’ve seen the entire trip. I spent the evening sitting in the cockpit enjoying the bright sunshine and watching dolphins jump and pelicans swoop. And it was warm. Yay Florida.
Conditions are supposed to remain nice for another day or two. Sometime tomorrow I think I’ll head back out into the Atlantic and continue south to Fort Pierce or West Palm Beach.