13 February 2022: The Race Is On!
13 Febraury 2022
Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas
Coral Harbor, New Providence, Bahamas
Cumulative Mileage (NM)
Crew on Board
Skipper, first mate, chef, entertainment and more; I guess that is solo sailing for you!
GENERAL WEATHER OBSERVATIONS
20 knots gusting to 26 knots
T-shirt and shorts kind of weather
Dry, thank goodness! Unless you count the occasional salt spray from a lively sea state.
My week at Nassau was still busy as usual. So much computer work and planning projects. Plus other minor things like doing laundry, stocking up on fresh food and more.
After a few days I was surprised by a message from friends on SV Seawind – from the Carolinas and Florida – at 4am saying their anchorage in the Berry Islands was terribly uncomfortable and that they were headed for Nassau. They would be there is in the late morning and I promised to report back on how much room there was in my anchorage for them when I woke up in the morning. Good news! At first light I popped my head out and there was plenty of room.
It was nice to see some familiar faces and with some incoming weather, we were able to make a plan together. Always nice for a solo sailor to have people to bounce plans off of! And lucky for all of us, I knew of a private dock on the south side of New Providence that friends had stayed at and the price was right – only $115/week! Unheard of levels of affordability!
Plus it was in a series of canals and was very protected from the weather coming.
And room for both us!
So we planned our departure the day before the incoming weather to go around the west side of New Providence and around to the south. We left around 8am but fueled up right near the anchorage. And then we were off.
I was particularly nervous (like actually looked at the charts going around the east side instead) about going under the bridges again. Despite knowing which sections I went under on the way in, they are still so hard to read and so easy to second guess. One bridge has proper markings and the other does not. And in the week I had been at the anchorage a catamaran was dismasted. It is unclear which section it happened on, but you can see why a bridge that I already found exceptionally stressful was weighing on my mind!
You’ll be happy for me to report that I chose the same bridge sections as before and nothing bad befell Tala.
We poked our noses out of the harbor and the true force of the wind hit us. The forecast was for 20 knots and gusting to 24 knots and definitely a portion of the trip will be upwind. Early on though we were able to sail. And I hadn’t had a truly sporty sail like this since the first day I left the marina with Ed and Carolyn. It was not a race, just both of us cruising along bouncing a bit of some choppy waves.
We rounded the west side and still were able to sail the whole way so far, it wasn’t until the ESE turn that it became too close to sail. But when tacking the boat begins, you start out in denial. Both myself and Seawind assumed one good tack and then we would be on the correct point of sail to finish in a straight line. But then you find yourself going, one more tack. So close if I just tack out it will be really easy. I cannot believe that tack didn’t work. I am just going to go so far out of my way on this tack so it’s a guarantee. STILL NOTHING!
And at some point, zig zagging back and forth with Seawind, it turned into a race. Who would get on the right line first, we would have to wait and see (though funnily enough even if I lost, Seawind had to wait for me as we would be rafted up at the marina and we were instructed to have me enter first).
We were instructed to radio when we were a few miles out to contact ‘Ranger’ on Channel 72 and before we were in the “few miles” distance we heard a boat in front of us radio. A vessel named Ola. I got very excited as I had been messaging an SV Ola since Connecticut and trying to cross paths and so I got on my Facebook while the autopilot was sailing and messaged to ask if they too were headed for this private dock. And they were! We would finally get to meet in person!
At one point, a short while later, I texted Seawind and let them know that in a hour of tacking back and forth across each other, we only made one mile of progress towards our destination. Once realizing that, we both turned on the engines (me first, so I conceded victory to them) and motored the remaining 9 miles! I motor a little quicker than Seawind, which we knew from the ICW in the Carolinas, so it worked out well for entering the canals.
We radioed in a couple miles out and got a bit more details for the tie up. This gave me time to setup my port side lines and fenders, as this solo sailor does not like to be in constrained situations while setting those up. I prefer to set them up in the wide open seas without a worry in the world rather than rushing near the confines of unfamiliar docks. As it turns out I was planned to be the middle vessel sandwiched between an old sailboat already tied to the dock on my port side and Seawind on the starboard side. I turned the corner to immediately raft up and was instructed by an elderly gentleman (80 years plus) from land as I turned the corner. As I pulled up next to the vessel identified, I was SWARMED with about six people on my boat immediately. Taking my lines and securing them to the vessel and passing me lines from land to ready for Seawind’s arrival. They started on the port side tying me on and then immediately migrated and were already catching Seawind’s lines before I could blink! It sounds dramatic but it was a whirlwind!
By the time the job was done and both me and Seawind (and Ola) were settled in it was happy hour! We joined under the covered garden area with a drink to celebrate and got to know everyone. And, yes, Ola was Karen and Steve that I had been messaging for almost five months! We finally got to meet and I could tell we would be fast friends! What a coincidence!
I was ready for a week tied to a dock to finally get started on my new autopilot and having other cruisers so close by for consultation. This “being on the dock” business was hugely helpful in West Palm Beach when I re-did my standing rigging and I was sure with Seawind next to me and Ola down the way that I would have great minds to consult!
“There are no strangers here; only friends you have not met yet.”
– William Butler Yeats