It’s 11:30AM May 10th, and I struggle with ways to describe how much I enjoy this life. (This is not a sentiment I felt six months ago on any given Thursday morning.)
The island of Eleuthera is far behind us to the south. Our destination, Greater Abaco, is to our left, but is not yet visible. The wind blows over 20MPH behind my left shoulder. (If it tickles my right ear I know I’m off course). The occasional flying fish leaps from in front of the boat, breezes low over the waves, then, blown back by the wind, either grazes a crest to catch a quick breath and fly further, or smacks into a wave to disappear from sight.
Both sails are up now, and we are moving at about 6.5 knots. The solar panel is soaking up sunlight. The wind generator occasionally stops spinning, letting us know the batteries are topped off. We are ahead of schedule, and will get to choose which entrance gets us from the Atlantic into the Sea of Abaco.
This crossing is different from the trip from the Exumas to Eleuthera. Then, we were sailing into the wind. There was big chop, especially close to shore, where the ocean, thousands of feet deep, broke onto the shallow waters. For that crossing, all senses were geared forward to make sure we sailed as ‘close’ into the wind as possible.
But when the alarm went off at 3:30 this morning, we knew the wind would be behind us. By 4:10 we were motoring out of the Royal Island anchorage. We had a half moon, and lots of low clouds. Under 15 knot winds, Duwan motored us to the Little Egg Island cut. When she asked whether the cut was risky, all I could tell her was that I saw no whitecaps. She got us through the Egg reefs, the cut, and past the big reefs on the northern side.
In the moonlight we raised the mainsail. The best heading we could sail was a little off — northwest. I anticipated some course changes to reach our goal, but during the day the wind slowly eased northward and our track just ‘bent’ in the right direction.
We made good progress from the start. At sunrise the seas were steady enough to allow me to cook some grits. But by the time they were ready, Duwan no longer thought eating was a good idea. I took the helm until 11:00, when she felt better.
We unfurled the headsail and she started steering. But the higher wind speed had intensified things a bit. At 11:30 she gave the helm back to me.
All morning the seas had been coming from behind. The big seas come in threes. Occasionally you feel a wave lift the boat a bit higher. When that happens I steer a little harder right into the trough of that wave, then steer hard left to climb the second bigger wave. At the crest it’s hard right again to surf down the wave. Then a quick left then right to surf down the third wave.
This is more fun now that the headsail is out. Before that, surfing down the big waves was brief. The waves mostly just washed under us. But with both sails up we have enough speed for a nice long ride down the bigger waves.
By 2:00PM we were at the Little Harbor cut. There was plenty of wind, but not too much roll. Duwan steered us through the cut and up the coast of Abaco. There were several charted anchorages close by, but we chose to stop at a place that looked better than these. As it turned out, we didn’t need to leave so early this morning. But when making a trip over 50 miles, we want to arrive as early as possible.
Three months ago, we hopped a bus in Miami. The bus probably got up to 40 MPH. Since then we have sailed, swam and walked, never going faster than seven MPH. I wonder how it will feel to drive fast when we get back to the States.