6 Dec 2016

6 December 2016 Great Harbour Cay

We set off from Key West at 2:30pm with great expectations that the weather was going to play ball and allow us to sail all the way to Great Harbour Cay. Hmm. As we left Key West we expected the winds to veer from East to southeast so that as we headed east we would be close hauled but able to sail relatively easily. Well, the winds decided not to move as predicted and we were really pushing the envelope sailing too close to the wind, but also into the waves. Not a comfortable sailing situation. By the time we got to midnight, we had had enough and diverted into Marathon Key to an anchorage that is deep enough to take our draught to get some sleep and see what the weather was doing in the morning.
At 6am, we got up, checked the weather forecasts yet again to see that the winds had shifted round to the south east, we could go. We changed our approach this time and took the Hawk Passage (inside the reef) as far as some shoals, then branched outside into the main Gulf Stream waters. As we got further round the Keys, we started to head northeast and the sailing really started. The first part of the Gulf Stream was rather bouncy, the result of days of wind over tide, but once we got out into the deeper water things calmed down a bit and we were blistering along and it turned out to be a great sail. As we approached the North Rocks near Bimini we calculated that our average speed for the last 4.5 hours was 10 knots - not bad at all!
We turned into the Bahama Bank as the winds moved to the south, meaning that we should have had a good sail onwards across the bank, however, the short punchy waves on our bow had other ideas and it turned out to be something of a slog with the bow being pounded by every other wave coming towards us, no sleep for either of us last night so we arrived pretty jaded at high water today. The tally for 24 hours sailing - 180 miles, a pretty good average speed of 7.5 knots.
We are now tucked up in the cosy marina we like here on Great Harbour Cay, planning to stay for a week to allow a severe weather pattern to blow through and we will remain in our hurricane hole while it exhausts itself.