A 24-Hour Wild West Wind Battle
We have been blessed with good weather so far in the Bahamas. Truly, it has only rained two days in the last six weeks and we have only had to deal with two wind storms. The first, we rode out at a private dock in Coral Harbour on the South-west tip of New Providence. The second occurred just this week and it was a doozy.
We decided to anchor at Black Point Settlement for the start of the wind storm because it offered us the most protection from the forecasted strong east winds and high waves. Also in the forecast was a quick (6 hour) clocking of the winds where they would swing from east to south-east then to the west before settling in from the north for a day. Finally, the wind clock was expected to go back to the prevailing east wind, albeit much lighter with the storm having dissipated. Our anchorage offered great protection for all of this…except that small window of west wind. We considered moving anchorages for the west wind but, unfortunately, the Exumas doesn’t have many anchorages where we would find the wind protection that we needed. And, really, why move? To protect ourselves from a little uncomfortable rolli-ness for a few hours? We, and 50 other boats that stayed, felt that we could deal with a small slice of discomfort.
Yeah, no. Mother Nature decided that we needed to learn a lesson.
That west wind did come but she didn’t make it a quick visit and she brought a pretty sizable sea state along with her. From late evening on Sunday until mid-afternoon on Monday, Wild Horses was rolled and pitched, slapped around and banged abruptly. To say it was uncomfortable is a massive understatement. The movement, I imagine, was akin to being inside an unbalanced washing machine. The winds were the worst over night, which made sleeping impossible. I tried to sleep in our cabin in the V berth (bow of the boat) but the abrupt slamming from side to side and then front to back and then kitty corner to kitty corner (I am not exaggerating) was just too much for me. I mostly camped out in the salon, close to the keel. This is the least rolly part of the boat but it still didn’t afford me enough comfort to sleep. Looking out into the darkness, I could see that every boat was being thrown around violently. Everyone in the anchorage was having a very sleepless night.
Well, except Mike and Ocean. Ocean didn’t wake up at all and Mike woke up just to do a deck check every few hours (checking that our anchor was still well set and that the boat and dinghy were properly handling the motion). Yeesh! My crew are definitely the saltiest of salty sailors!
Morning light didn’t bring much relief. The westerly battering had switched to a northwesterly battering and we could see the angry sea state better but that was all. We continued to endure the washing machine until early evening, when the wind started to abate.
Then we heard the stories. Steve from Lola had spent a sleepless night managing his anchor snubber (shock absorber for the anchor chain) which unexpectedly broke and needed a quick repair. Except his second snubber then broke. And his steel bow roller for his anchor bent from the force of the battering. Yeesh. Another boat that had anchored in shallower water had their keel slam violently into the sea bed. There was no apparent damage but the experience was unsettling. The good news was that not a single boat dragged and no one reported injuries beyond scrapes and bruises. Whew!
The following day was February 14th. The winds were back to the east and had dropped to a favourable 15 knots. The sea state had calmed considerably and the sun was shining. Ah, the joy. Our perfect Bahamian weather had returned and we were going to make the best of it with an eight hour sail to Georgetown. The trauma of the last 24 hours was quickly forgotten as we made our way through Dotham Cut at the north end of Great Guana Cay and put out our sails. The open ocean with following seas and a gorgeous northeast wind pushing us along seemed like a great Valentines Day gift.
We arrived in Georgetown just before dark and anchored off Stocking Island. This busy harbour is a real eye opener after the quaint little anchorages and towns of the northern and central Exumas. To our west lies the town of Georgetown. It has lots of great shopping including easy access to groceries, restaurants, and liquor stores 😊. To our east, south and north, well, there are about a gazillion anchored boats. The Georgetown anchorages look and feel like a busy little metropolis. Dinghys zoom between boats, the beaches are a collection of get-togethers, there is chatter, music and lights on many of the boats. The vibe here is welcoming, alive, active and social! This is fun! As much as we like our quiet anchorages and sweet little towns, having a lively home base for a while isn’t a bad thing.
We will be in Georgetown for the next week exploring, provisioning and resting up for the next leg of our journey. We will soon be headed to the southern Bahamas and then onto the Dominican Republic.
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Victoria is a hiker, dog-lover, blog writer and planner extraordinaire. Oh, yeah and she is kind of fond of living on a boat.