Sunday, January 10, 2016

North Cat Cay to Frazers Hog Cay, Bahamas

The wind picked up during the night, and was blowing 30+ knots. It woke me up around 0200 and I came up to check on the anchor. Especially since this is a new anchor to us I wanted to be sure that it was holding well.

As I came up I could see lightning flashes off in the distance. I checked the weather radar on my phone and could see a line of thunderstorms approaching from the north. But they were quite a ways off. The anchor was holding fine, but I let out more chain to be safe, and I went back to bed.

Around 0500 loud thunder woke me up. I came up to the pilothouse and it was raining pretty heavily, with lots of lightning around. No sooner had I gotten up the stairs we were slammed with 50 mph winds and pounding rain. I was thankful I had let out more chain on the anchor rode when I was up earlier. Nevertheless, I decided to start the engines, just in case.

Just as I was ready to put the engines in gear to ease the strain on the anchor the wind died as suddenly as it had come up. It was starting to get light so we prepared to get underway. We had an 80 mile trek to make today, across the Grand Bahama Bank. This is a large expanse of relatively shallow water, 12-15', with a mostly sandy bottom. Pretty much featureless, no land in sight, and no place to go if the weather gets nasty.

We got the anchor up by 0730 and headed east. Looking ahead it appeared we might not have the best day for getting across the banks.

Thunderstorms ahead
The day actually started off pretty well, even though the conditions looked bad. Throughout the day we passed through several thunderstorms but they generally did not last long. Seas did not get too uncomfortable.

Around 1500 something happened and the engines sounded strange. Then I noticed the port engine was not running smoothly. I pulled the throttle back and shut the engine down. We continued ahead on one engine while I went to the engine room to see if I could find the problem. I checked oil, coolant, and transmission fluid levels and all were okay. I could find nothing amiss on the engine. Back up to the pilothouse and started it back up. It sounded fine. I put it in gear then slowly increased the throttle. At first it seemed fine, but then Paula and I both noticed a vibration that was not there before. Rats!

At this point all I could do is to reduce throttle slightly to ease the vibration. I was hoping that we had just picked up some trash or something around the prop. The weather had deteriorated to the point I did not want to attempt diving under the boat. It would have to wait until we got anchored somewhere.

Our plans had been to make it to Morgan's Bluff on Andros Island, and clear customs there. But it was getting late and it would be after dark by the time we arrived. We were trying to decide on an alternative when we got hailed on the radio. It was Lone Palm, a boat out of Houston. They were in Marathon at the same time we were. They had heard us on the radio earlier in the day and hailed us. We had told each other of our plans. They were going to Chub Cay, while we were heading in a different direction. They were moving faster than we were and had already arrived at their anchorage. They were calling to check on us as it was getting late.

Belinda, on Lone Palm, informed us that they had anchored just north of the Berry Islands Club, off Frazers Hog Cay. This was just a few miles closer than Morgan's Bluff. She said that they were well protected there from the increasing winds and it was calm. Sounded good to us and we decided to head that way.

Rainbow leading us to our anchorage at Frazers Hog Cay

We arrived at Frazers Hog Cay at dusk, and had to make our way up the narrow channel in the dark. We navigated past a couple of sailboats and up to where Lone Palm was anchored. We stopped a few hundred feet short of them and dropped the hook. It was 1830.

We were bushed. A quick drink, light supper, and we hit the sack!

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