Paradise Next Door - Bahamas Cruise
Icons/LFlorish.gif 2011 Icons/RFlorish.gif
Icons/BD21315_.GIF
Boot Key Sunset
~ Sunset Over the Seven Mile Bridge ~
BahamasIcon/BahamasIcon.gif
Going to Anchor before Going Abroad
March 23th & 24th, 2011
 
Stuck at the Fuel Dock
The tides had been extreme so we were going to anchor off of Boot Key for the night in preparation for our departure. Tomorrow we would cross the Gulf Stream, but not too early so our entry into Bimini would occur with the sunrise.  We left Boot Key Harbor with the intention of going to the Marathon Marina one last time to top off our water and fuel tanks, empty the holding tank and say our final goodbyes.  Alas those pesky spring tides had drained away the depth and on my way to the fuel dock I ended up running aground – how embarrassing!

Fortunately, a fisherman in an over powered flats boat offered to tow us off.  We successfully put some water under our keel and concluded it would be best to just go straight to anchor.  Don spent the day running jerry jugs back and forth while I finished tidying up the top sides.

A Frozen Puzzle
Several of our friends sailed out to wish us farewell and fair winds, and our mate Rick joined us for a last meal together.  I opened my over-flowing freezer, and pulled out the first thing I could grab.  A couple of ribeye steaks - SCORE! The massive volume of meat was freezing nicely, but musing over the oddly shaped meat caused a moment of mortification.
Don Reynolds at the Helm
~ Don at the Helm of Re Metau ~
By stuffing my wedge shaped freezer to the gills, I’d essentially created a glacial Janga.  Each piece of frozen protein fit perfectly in its place and removing one package threatened to topple the tangled mass - a mélange of meat that could never be reassembled.  Added to that tribulation was the fact that I’d organized the meat by type!  Poultry would not make the plate for some time.

I quickly put my concerns into perspective; I mean really. We had a boat with a full belly, best friends onboard, a beautiful sunset view off the Seven Mile Bridge, and before us lay the Bahamas.  Who doesn't want my problems?

The good weather held, so at 10:30 AM we hauled anchor and headed on our course.  Everything that we fixed on the boat worked as we’d hoped.  It was so nice to kick into a comfortable cruising speed and not see the engine temperature gauge rise.  Don had spent an afternoon flushing the Yanmar’s water tanks, until it puked out what was either a mummified moon jelly or a petrified prophylactic - we could never really be sure.  But thereafter our mistress’s temper remained cool.
 
The Auto-Pilot
A couple hours at the wheel prompted me to engage Otto the autopilot, a crew member whose temperamental attitude had at one point caused his discharge from duty.  Years had passed until one day, a conversation over a water pump led me to derive the basis of Otto’s erratic behavior.  We’d moved the fluxgate compass to amidships for a more accurate reading, landing it right next to our freshwater pump - a motor with a very large magnet that would spasmodically spin the compass, and the course of course.  We retuned the compass to its original position, and Otto’s wayward ways turned true.

Out My Galley Window
~ Out My Galley Window ~
Riding the Gulf Stream
The speedometer was working (finally after we switched the transducers around), and I asked my Captain how we’d know when we found the Gulf Stream.  Don said "the speed should increase a bit" and I set the Tacktick to show water temperature and watched for the warmer flow.

On top of calm seas, under the shade of scattered clouds we relaxed into our comfortable cruise.  By 12:30, the Gulf Stream grabbed hold, pulling us to a speedy 9 knots – a record for Re Metau.  I tried to nap some, read the book ‘One Thousand White Women’ that my friend Cassie gave me, listened to music and generally just enjoyed the day.  Neptune was a little distressed, but by evening had managed to find his sea legs and joined us in the cockpit.  We spotted some large freighters and a few cruise ships in the distance.  Lit up like floating Christmas trees, they quickly disappeared over the horizon.

The setting sun prompted me to come up with a dinner plan, else we’d be dining in the dark.  Our packed freezer produced a pair of ribeye steaks the previous evening, leaving plenty of leftovers and a perfect reason to postpone another plunge into the frozen puzzle of protein. With the addition of some beans and rice, we had a little floating fiesta!

I was able to capture the sunset out my galley port to add to my collection.  To me – the galley port, or kitchen window was a view I spent a lot of time gazing upon, and on Re Metau it was ever changing.  So I decided to capture a photo with each new change, as a porthole to the memory of the places we’d been.

Re Metau's Salon
~ A Cozy Cabin Underway ~
On Night Watch
By night fall, I took watch while Don snatched some shuteye.  The winds had picked up quite a bit, causing the seas to become lumpy.   I became mesmerized with our trail of phosphorescence, like a wisp from Tinkerbell’s wand.  To remain alert, I held a private dance at the helm, but the green light by the gauges was not flashing high praise for my awesome moves.

Rather it indicated that the primary blige pump was running.  It may have just been caused by a little bit of water sloshing near the float switch, but my mind raced with disastrous postulations about the shaft's flax packing coming loose now that we'd been able to run the engine at full throttle.  The bilge inside the cabin looked dry, so I remained at my post, trying to give Don at least a few hours of rest before making him aware of this potential problem.  But that green light kept popping on!

At midnight, both my watch and my patience with the pump was done.  “Don” I whispered, “Are you awake?”  A little groggy eyed, he mumbled that he wasn’t able to sleep, so I took the opportunity to state my concern in as mild a manner as possible - "I THINK WE'RE SINKING!!!!".  That was the voice in my head; not what came out of my mouth.  Fortunately, Don's assessment of the situation was correct. The electronic switch’s contacts were smudged with scum and a clean sweep would stop the parched pump’s cycles.

Arriving Before Dawn
We were rapidly making way and the border of Bimini arrived long before the sun - yet another in a long series of lightless landfalls.  Don did some quick plotting on the charts and altered our course South where we could sit tight until daylight.  The scattered island lights were disorienting at night and all too soon the depth reading rose from a thousand fathoms to a mere eight feet.

We set the anchor at around 2:30 AM and once assured everything was secure, went below.  Don had installed an extraordinarily loud anchor drag alarm on which we could comfortably rely, yet when shrieking, was capable of stripping years off a person’s life.  We were still pretty exposed to the blowing North West winds, and bound for a restless berth full of roller coaster bumps and bounces.

But shortly after sunrise, sound slumber would surely descend in the security of a South Bimini slip.  Like the islanders welcome...

"All Is Well!"
Icons/BD21315_.GIF
Copyright © 2015 Diana E Reynolds - SV Re Metau.  All rights reserved.

"Even now; with a thousand little voyages notched in my belt. I still feel a memorial chill on casting off." ~ E. B. White