Monday, December 16, 2013

The Berry Islands

After a lovely stay in both North and South Bimini, we had a great weather window allowing us to head east to the Berry Islands, a chain of islands and cays lying on the eastern side of the Great Bahamas Bank.  The cays are uninhabited for the most part.  Some are privately owned.  The Berry's are clearly off the well-traveled path and are not for those seeking crowds or organized activities.  For those seeking unadulterated isolation, this is paradise.  

We left South Bimini at 6:50 AM on Sunday with winds out of the south east.  After a six mile run north we rounded the light at Moselle Bank and assumed a 103 degree course through the Great Bahamas Bank to Great Harbor Cay.  We averaged over 7.5 knots for the entire 12 hour sail.  It was a great sail with 15-20 knot winds and moderate seas on the beam.  In other words we flew (by sailing standards).  Unfortunately, with the sun setting at 5:30 PM, we were not able to enter the harbor in daylight.  The entry to the harbor has two stonewalls about 30 feet apart.  It was somewhat intimidating to enter at night but all went well with the support of Tara, Chad, and Kay.  Once in, we wound through a narrow channel to a well-protected Marina.  After a sampling of the Conch fritters and other treats, it was time to call it a day.

Great Harbor Beach
We were pleased to be able to move east as easily as we have.  With the winds shifting to the east and strengthening as January approaches, we will continue to jump in that direction when the weather permits.  This is the challenge of going through the Bahamas as a route to the lower Caribbean.  It is also why so many sailers opt for the longer passages from the Carolinas or north to Bermuda or directly to the USVIs.  That will be for another trip and another time.

Shark by the Boat
For now, we feel we are in paradise and enjoying our visit with Tara and Chad.  Unfortunately, they will be returning to Vermont at the end of the week.  This will mean we have to leave the Berry's and sail to Nassau so that they can ferry back to Florida.  From Nassau we will again look east and head for the Exumas.  We hope to spend a good deal of time there before the longer passage to Porto Rico. 

Thanks for following....

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Atalanta has "Left The Building"

Bimini Coast
Atalanta and its intrepid crew have left the U.S. for foreign waters.  We are excited to say that we successfully transited the Gulf Stream and landed in the Bahamas, Bimini to be exact.  A favorite spot for Hemingway and Adam Clayton Powell.  Prior to our departure we spent three days in Fort Lauderdale preparing for the trip, waiting for Chad and Tara to arrive, and playing with friends Richard and Martin.  We departed mid-day on Tuesday and headed south to Miami so we would have a better angle to cross the Gulf Stream.

Chad and Tara

For those who are unfamiliar with the Gulf Stream, it is a river that flows through the Atlantic at a 3-6 knot clip.  Its position changes somewhat each day.  For us it began about 10 miles off the Florida shore and extended 35 miles to the east.  With the wind out of the east, it was a challenge to get across under sail.  At times we had to use the engine to assist as not to drift too far north.  The sea conditions of the Stream can also be very challenging.  We were fortunate to have a good weather window and only 2-4 foot seas.  It was very comfortable.  We entered the Stream just before sunset and spent the whole night crossing.  Our final approach into Bimini was complete by 9 AM.

We are now comfortably docked at the Bimini Blue Water Marina in Alice
Town.  It didn't take long for us to find ourselves snorkeling in blue clear
The Dolphin House
water.  We saw barracuda, small sheepsheads, and other fish that we couldn't identify.  Tara and Chad were able to find conch shells and other treasures.

Our next steps in the journey will take us to the Berry Islands and points east.  We are so thrilled to be in this beautiful country, exploring and enjoying all it has to offer.  More to come as we progress.
Thanks for following.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Southern Florida and Beyond

Saturn V
Kay getting ready to Lauch
Since Thanksgiving, we have had many an adventure.  It is remarkable how social travel by boat is.  We are connecting with friends of old and meeting new ones regularly.  After leaving St. Augustine, we headed down the ICW to Daytona.  After one night we continued on to the warmer climes and made it to Titusville, FL.

Titusville is one of those towns impacted by the down-sizing of a single employer, NASA.  This little town provided us with a gateway to the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral.  We spent the day with John and Theresa who were also touring the Center.  We were so impressed and moved by our visit to the place where we launched astronauts to the moon and International Space Station.After our visit to Titusville, we continued south and landed in an anchorage with friends Ken and Francie sailing "Release" just off the Melbourne Bridge.  Here we were able to watch the Space X rocket launch, another thrill to see.  After spending a day at the beach and enjoying the company of Ken and Francie, we continued south.

Saying goodbye to Release, we continued to Sebastian for a short but sweet visit with fellow Mad River Valley residents, Peter and Blaine.  We anchored just outside the channel in the lee of a small island, a short dingy ride to Peter and Blaine's condo.  After lots of food, drink and catching up, we were once again on our way in search of perpetual sunshine.

Blaine, Richard and Kay
Sebastian, FL
We motored to Fort Pierce and exited the ICW at sundown.  The current was strong and the wind opposing resulting in a steep (10 foot) chop.  It was a challenge to enter the Atlantic but once there we sailed through the night to Fort Lauderdale, arriving at 4 PM the following day.  Upon arriving in Ft. Lauderdale we were met by Bristol friends Martin and Richard.  They invited us to a wonderful dinner aboard 11-11.  We can't thank them enough for a wonderful dinner and welcome to Fort Lauderdale.

Now the time has come.  Tara and Chad will join us tonight and we will sail to Miami and then off shore to Bimini.  The non-USA portion of our journey begins and we are excited to see where it takes us.  More on that as it unfolds.

Thanks for following us and we hope all is well.

Murray anticipates getting off Atalanta