Internally, I was kicking and screaming, “I don’t wanna go home!” Externally, “Yes, it is best to go now before the upcoming 2 weeks of poor weather which will prevent crossing in a timely manner.” Had we left on Monday evening we could have gone much further north but then we would have missed the land crab potluck with the other boaters in our anchorage at Manjack. We had never heard of, nor seen, these ginormous foot wide crabs. Wicked and dangerous. In fact, they can break a finger! The folks on the boat that hosted the event captured them at night then put them in a pen with fresh water and coconuts which cleans out their systems. Scott quickly learned while cracking ours that just because they are big, it doesn’t mean there is a lot of meat. However, there were more than enough for everyone. It was such fun meeting people from all over, including three boats from France! Photos L. to R.: 1. Crabs in their pen with their coconut dinner 2. Frantically trying to climb out of the pot of boiling water 3. Dinner time!
Tuesday morning we planned to dinghy through the mangroves to see all the turtles, rays and sharks and go to the beach on the Atlantic side. This is one of my top 3 dinghy spots in the Bahamas. Instead, Scott studied the weather and we decided that it might be best to head home rather than potentially being stuck in the Bahamas. Aw, that would really suck! However, one big obstacle stood in our way; we had to check out at Green Turtle Club Marina which was five miles south. “Checking out” is a new protocol which we considered skipping until we learned that we could get slapped with a $5000 fine. The marina informed us that the customs officer was in Marsh Harbour and she would have to take a water taxi to meet us which could take hours or possibly a day or two, after all, this is island time. We were cutting the weather window close and Scott’s stress level was at a 10. Scott called the officer directly and learned that she had some papers on her desk at the marina and we wouldn’t have to see her after all. Whew! In no time flat we buzzed south in the dinghy, took care of business, returned and pulled up the anchor.
We had a beautiful overnight crossing with perfect weather. I slept from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. and Scott’s shift was from 2:30-7:30 a.m.. Most people take shorter shifts, but this seems to work best for us, and then we take a nap during the day. We had to cross the Gulf Stream which runs mostly parallel to the US coast. In order to make landfall where we wanted to, we had to cross it and counter its current pushing us North. The two screen shots show the extent of the crabbing the boat had to do to stay on our route line. Both the radar and the chart show about 30 degrees to port. We were headed NW so the boat was steered 30 degrees into the current and we stayed on our route. The fish were biting and we caught yet another barracuda and a nice King Mackerel. Before we knew it we were at Cape Marina in Cape Canaveral.
Prior to our quick escape to the US we had quickly skimmed through the Abacos due to time constraints and destruction from Dorian which was devastating. We spent only one night anchored at at Man O War where they had recently rebuilt many of their docks. The new docks were bigger and better with with plenty of excellent ladders. We couldn’t even find where the marina had been…completely gone. The island was almost devoid of people yet many homes were looking pretty good. On our previous visit we were enamored with the gorgeous flowers and we did see a few coming back to life.
In Hope Town we were saddened by the complete loss of so many buildings other than the light house and the Hope Town Inn and Marina where we enjoyed a nice lunch. We trekked up 101 steps to enjoy the beautiful 360* view from the Elbow Reef Lighthouse. It is the only manned light station in the world which has not been electrified. Its lens is hand-wound by a keeper and it is fueled by kerosene. It remains a time capsule of 1800s British engineering and a symbol of Hope Town.
You may remember our challenge in getting to shore at Pete’s Pub. After the dinghy debacle we anchored in an area with more protection from swells and the following day enjoyed a delicious lunch at Pete’s Pub. In fact, they served the best peas and rice that we’ve ever had. We also enjoyed chatting with Pete Johnston, the owner and bronze sculptor.
Fast forward to our arrival in Cape Canaveral. The very first thing I did, even before napping, was to make an appointment to get my second vaccine. I’m soooo glad that is complete. Instacart delivered loads of fruits and vegetables. Scott got his first professional hair cut in 1.5 years. I took stock of the pantry, storage under the settee, and under some of our steps. I found quite a nice stash of dark chocolate. Either I paced myself and ate with self-control or one might say that I was scared I would run out and completely over stocked. I’m going with the first option! Note the price of the almond milk from the Bahamas compared to only $1.99 at Aldi’s. In addition, their tax is 12%.
From Cape Canaveral we had two 10+ hours days to make it to Fernandina Beach where we met my oldest son, Clayton. We hadn’t seen him since October of 2018 when we visited him in Germany where he was stationed (Air Force). He was a sight for sore eyes and it was a delight to spend time with him. He is currently stationed in Georgia so visits will be much more frequent. Two manatees entertained us while nibbling on the growth on the side of the docks.
A fairly miserable overnight offshore cruise took us from Fernandina to Charleston. The first portion was rough and loud with items falling over but at least the waves were hitting us square on the bow. When Scott was taking his nap our course shifted a little, as did the winds. My pressure point wrist bands, silly water-filled glasses, and ginger chews failed miserably. Afterwards, I took half a stugeron hoping it would help with the sickness yet not cause me to sleep during my night shift. No more vomit bags were needed and I managed to complete my shift but I felt like crap the entire following day. We were aware of the weather conditions, which really weren’t bad at all, but I need relatively calm seas unless they are on the bow or the stern. By taking this route we were able to shave off 52 nm and avoid the shifting bottoms and skinny water (shallow) in Georgia.
Charleston…one of my favorite cities on the ICW. An old back injury of Scott’s prevented us from doing much walking but we did manage to eat some delicious food. We also bought some new shoes, frozen Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits and red Geechie Boy grits for me to attempt to create a healthy version of grits!
Today we are on the road again and I am longing for the Bahamas. I do enjoy traveling the ICW, actually, I enjoy pretty much everywhere and everything but sea sickness! But, I sorely miss the breathtaking, brilliant, blue Bahamian waters, the simple, no-stress way of life, the friendly people, sunny days, and the non-stop sightings of marine wildlife. I’m already counting the days until we return!