A little later that day, it was time to turn south. Our Gulf
Stream crossing had come and gone without a hiccup, and we were pointed
directly at some tropical islands! A distinctly different mood
settled over the boat - the worry we'd had over something going wrong
in the Gulf Stream vanished and we relaxed a tiny bit.
Thursday turned into Friday, and by Friday night relaxation time was
over: a cold front was moving our way. Thick
clouds crowded in, diffusing the bright moon and turning the
sky a dappled, dark grey. Squalls rushed into
the scene as dense, Satanic-looking masses low on the horizon, utterly
black with downward flashes of silent lightning. The wind began
to howl and one by one, each cell hurtled it's way over and across us,
blasting hot and cold gusts and soaking us with torrential rain.
The clouds were
so low and close as they passed over it seemed as though our mast could
brush them. The waves grew with the wind, bigger than we'd ever
seen. We took turns hand steering, feeling that the situation
warranted only human judgement at the helm. It was
By Saturday morning, we had sailed through the squalls, but we were
left with some rather large waves for company. Nothing SARABANDE
couldn't handle, but we weren't too thrilled. And according to
the ham weather
net, we were going to be stuck with these swells, and bigger, for some
Time dragged on. Our first squalls at sea had left us
drained and it was hard to recover lost energy. The waves did
indeed get bigger, and with them the motion of the boat got more
pronounced. The wind was shifting from the northeast to the
southeast, and the thought of beating headlong into waves this big made
us very, very unhappy. The boat was in her element and sailed
happily along, doing just what she was designed to do. We hadn't
been designed with this in mind though, and weren't holding up as well.
The increased motion made Alicia queasy in spite of a scopolamine
patch, and sleep was pretty impossible for both of us.
It was Tuesday and we were exhausted and sort of delirious.
Although the water was turning an encouraging Kool-Aid
blue, we felt like we'd been at sea forever and we knew soon we'd have
to turn the bow east and start pounding into these big bruisers to get
to the Exumas. The morning weather forecasted increased
southeasterly winds, and no abatement in the seas. "Yeah, it's
going to be a rough time out there for you guys," said Chris Parker.
Ugh! At this rate we'd be out two more days at least, and they
were going to be awful. We worried that, as tired as we were,
we'd make some sort of stupid mistake and mess up our boat or
ourselves. Brian pulled out our charts and spent a
few minutes hunched over them.
Brian: "The Abacos are just 80
miles up ahead, and all we'd have to do is steer this exact course!"
Alicia, after less than one second's hesitation: "Woo hoo!"
Hot dog! Only eighty miles left and no bashing into scary waves! We ran our idea by Herb on the afternoon weather net
agreed that the Abacos vs. the Exumas made a lot of sense. We'd
see the Exumas soon enough - for now we really needed a place to land
and a good nights' sleep. Morale improved immediately, and we
about the junk food we were going to order ourselves once we were
safely ashore. Discussing elaborate banana splits carried us
through until we spotted land, when adrenaline kicked in to help us
from botching our approach.
Our totally goofy-looking course.
On December 10th around 12pm, we
dropped anchor in sunny Marsh Harbour after sailing over 650 miles.
In a few hours, we'd cleared customs and then we did what
sailors arriving in port have done for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of
years: bellied up to the bar. But there was little
carousing. Our drinks hit us head on, and we hurried
blearily back to the boat to luxuriate in the first heavy, dreamless,
coma-like sleep we'd had in a week.
And the next day we woke up in a strange new land.