This is the
final third installment of our three-four-part series of our first year living aboard our catamaran sailboat, Giro.(Come on! The Bahamas deserves its own post.)
April 1 – 9, 2017. The Bahamas, baby!
We left the U.S. on Saturday, April 1, 2017, for the clear waters of The Bahamas (baby!) It was so calm that morning as we left Boot Key Harbor in the Florida Keys. We planned an overnight sail and buddy-boated with our good friends on Izula. It was a super easy crossing.
We caught tuna and Mahi on our way and had a wonderful dinner Saturday night.
The sunrise was gorgeous. (Can you see Izula ahead of us?)
After crossing The Bahama bank, we made our way to Andros Island Sunday morning. Austin hooked a barracuda on the hand line on our way in! Unfortunately, it was too big to eat, so we released it back to the ocean.
We arrived in Morgan’s Bluff, Andros, around lunchtime on Sunday, April 2.
Even though we had crossed the Gulf of Mexico, I think leaving the U.S. and arriving in another country, on our own sailboat, was the coolest experience ever. It felt like we were officially cruisers!
When we arrived at the anchorage, it was somewhat full with boats, almost all from Boot Key Harbor. haha… We were like, “hey we know them!” The holding in the anchorage was not the best. When we pulled in, we found a spot and set on the first try. But Izula had to move to find better holding. There was another boat that we thought was set when we came in, but they literally spent the next couple of hours or so trying to get their anchor to set. They tried like 10-15 times.
Phill and Matt took the dinghy and went to check us into customs. And grab a beer at the bar.
Zach jumped into the water right away. The water was as beautiful as we expected. We all eventually got in once Matt made it back, and we snorkeled the rest of the afternoon. We got to meet Lindy and Zach from s/v Holiday when they snorkeled over to say hi!
When Matt dove down directly under our boat, he found a conch!! We were so excited!
Izula told us to freeze it (in our portable freezer that we had just filled with provisions) so it would release the meat, but still keep the shell intact. It worked like a charm! I made my very first batch of conch salad. It was soooo gooood!
This trip to The Bahamas was a test for us. Our hopes were that we would be able to get good enough internet that Matt would be able to connect to his work VPN, and we would be able to stay for the 90 days we received when Matt checked in. We provisioned for three months in The Bahamas just in case.
The next few days, in addition to all the cool stuff we did below, we spent trying to get a decent connection. We talked to people about best places in The Bahamas for good connection. But what we found instead was that Matt’s work VPN flagged him as being out of the country (which isn’t great for a network security engineer.) So even if we found good internet, Matt could eventually lose his connection due to it being suspicious activity. And we would be screwed trying to get back to U.S. right away. Bottomline – it wasn’t worth it to risk staying.
As a back-up, Matt had requested approval to work from Puerto Rico, as it is a U.S. territory. His manager set up a meeting for Monday, April 10, to discuss this opportunity. We figured since we couldn’t stay in The Bahamas for three months… moving to Puerto Rico would be a pretty cool alternative! There are so many islands within a half-day sail that we could explore… not to mention the island itself has some really great cruising grounds.
Since we knew within the first few days of arriving in The Bahamas that we wouldn’t be able to stay in for three months, we decided to make the most of our time we did have… and spent the week having a blast! After all, Matt was on vacation!
Captain Morgan’s Cave
Morgan’s Bluff is named after Captain Morgan. Rumor has it he buried a treasure in a cave on the island. We dinghied to the beach, where there were shipwrecks to explore, and hiked to the cave… which was complete with bats, but no treasure.
After the cave, we hiked up to the bluff! It was truly spectacular.
One thing cruisers know how to do… drink and eat. We were invited to an impromptu Happy Hour at the beach with all of the other cruisers in our anchorage. I just love that perfect strangers dinghy over and say, “Hey… we are all meeting at the beach at 6pm. Join us!”
The kids explored the beach unsupervised, and the adults swapped stories with new friends.
Good-byes are hard, y’all!
For the three months we hung out in the Florida Keys, the boys begged to do a sleepover with the Izula crew. We kept promising we would do it before we went our separate ways… what better place to have a sleepover than The Bahamas?? They spent the night on Izula’s boat… watched a late night movie… and crashed in the converted salon. I just love this photo Stacy sent me the morning after.
We spent another day at the beach on the other side. Found lots of good shells. Snorkeled more… but we had to start plotting when we would we leave and where we would go before a storm made its way to us. With winds from the North, we needed to get out of Morgan’s Bluff. Unfortunately, Izula was heading south and we needed to head North.
The next morning we slept in and woke to a completely empty anchorage. The only two boats left were us and Izula. It was actually kind of creepy… We knew we should probably head out… We had to say our goodbyes to the Izula crew… they came over to give hugs before we went our separate ways.
Izula took off before us and we waved goodbye to our good friends.
Finding our next anchorage.
Matt and I found two anchoring options in the Berry Islands that would protect us from the North winds so we could hunker down for the storm. We started heading for Chub Cay, but made a last minute decision to go to Frazer’s Hog Cay after hearing someone on the radio call a mooring field and ask about grabbing a ball for the night. We were like, wait, there are moorings there?? Let’s go there!
After crossing the Tongue of the Ocean and feeling a little sick from the waves, we were glad to make it to our mooring field at The Berry Islands Club. The moorings were brand new; replaced after Hurricane Matthew wiped out most of the island. In fact, the marina itself was still closed and being repaired. Not even a dock to get ashore, just brand new mooring balls.
The owner said he would be back a couple of days later and we could pay him then… so we settled in for a bumpy night, but thankful we didn’t have to worry about dragging anchor all night.
The Berry Islands, The Bahamas
The Berry Islands have a completely different terrain than Andros Island. It was really cool. We saw huge leopard rays, and millions of empty conch shells, and starfish, and sea biscuits, and sand dollars. We had two days of relaxing, beach combing, snorkeling, board games, and solitude. Reflecting back now, it was so peaceful and effortless. Nature all around. No civilization at all. Earth is amazing.
And just like that, our week in The Bahamas was coming to an end. Lucky for us, the weather had all moved out and we had a great window to do an overnight to Miami. Even though The Bahamas was begging us to stay.
During our crossing, we caught a couple more barracuda that we tossed back. The gulf stream the next morning was rough. Crossing it on the way over to The Bahamas was a breeze. I guess because we were able to ride it. But coming back we were going straight across and were getting tossed a bit. That didn’t stop Matt from catching a tuna though.
After nine days of feeling very remote and off-grid, we found ourselves looking at civilization again.
It was actually a little depressing. We wanted to just turn around and go back to The Bahamas and stay awhile. We know we didn’t even scratch the surface. But what we did confirm during that short trip is that we absolutely LOVE this life on the water. LOVE IT. And we want to keep going.
But we’re gonna need a bigger boat.