Off to the Berries!
April 30th-May 1st, 2020
We had another long day crossing to the chain of cays known as the Berries! The winds were very shifty and we had to go through some thunderstorms. The sails were up and down up and down. Coming into Little Harbour Cay Cut was fine but rounding up towards Comfort Cay and Little Harbour Cay the depth finder hit 2.5 ft. Our draft is 3 ft nine inches. We didn’t hit bottom but we were holding our breaths. Our depth finder has a cushion of about 1.5 feet so this was too close for comfort! The berries are a chain of remote cays but you have to be on your toes and hope the depths on the charts are correct. Shallow, Shallow, Shallow. We snaked our way through these cays and saw places where people scraped the bottom, and with Kevin on the bow and our fingers crossed and sphincters tight we made it through the chain. Our first night was spent near the tip of Comfort Cay adjacent to Little Harbour Cay. It was a bit choppy so we didn’t have time to explore. Flo’s Conch Shack was a dinghy ride away but closed so again maybe next time. We had neighbors that stopped by to warn us of an impending line of storms that caused winds north of us like we had experienced at Shroud Cay. They were telling us it could be another “derecho.” We let out some more scope and hunkered down. It went south of us and all was OK. In fact, it led to a fantastic iridescent sunset!
The next day we headed to Hoffman’s Cay near the Blue Hole. Beautiful anchorage. Snorkeled a bit and saw enormous conch shells along with a family of French Angelfish. It felt great to walk the short beach to stretch our legs. Just as the sun was setting and we were congratulating each other on picking such a fantastic anchorage, the mosquitos came out. We spoke too soon! We have been fortunate in that most of the time we have experienced very few bugs. We watched the sunset and then high tailed it inside.
The next morning we made the decision to leave that night and head to St. Augustine. The weather window looked pretty good for 60+ hour passage. It would require 3 overnights and two days. But before we were off we had to first explore the Blue Hole. We took the dinghy in and hiked about a 10 minute hike to the Blue Hole. It reminded me of a huge cenote like you would see in Mexico. You can jump off a high cliff into the 50 ft. deep hole. Kevin jumped but I couldn’t muster up the courage this time. Too many emotions already getting ready for the passage. Still, it was a unique spot.
We returned to the boat and prepared for the passage. This involves calculating the nautical miles in distance we will travel and trying to figure out how many hours it will take us based on our best guess of boat speed given certain winds. For us, it is essential we arrive to a new anchorage during daylight. The time it can take on a 300 nm passage can vary greatly depending if you average 5 knots or 6 knots or faster. You try to pick a conservative average and go for it! You also have to look at places you can possibly bail out if necessary. Waypoints were added to the chart plotter. Engines were checked. Lifelines were attached. Life vests were placed in the cockpit and the emergency ditch bag was prepared. In addition, we made some chicken salad, grilled chicken and pasta salad and hard boiled some eggs to eat on passage. We had to wait until high tide at 3:00 p.m. to motor north to Soldier Cay, where we would take off from later that evening. Soldier Cay is a beautiful place under calm conditions. The water was gin crystal clear and sharks and turtles were everywhere. We took one last swim and grilled some burgers. With heavy hearts, we left at 7:30 p.m., anxious to get home but sad to leave all the pristine gorgeous places we had experienced in the Bahamas!