After the worst of the weather had passed, we took a look at the long range forecast trying to determine when we could comfortably make the jump across the banks to Nassau hopefully arriving there with time to carry out all the necessary tasks like laundry, grocery shopping, fuel loading, and so on before starting the trek home. There was a nice break predicted in the weather about 6 to 8 days out that would allow a smooth gulf stream crossing, but in order to make it, we would have to leave Shroud with the wind still brewing up a bit of a cauldron. We took off early on the morning of May 13th, a Thursday, with the wind on our quarter at about 15 to 18 knots – not too bad. By 1000 it was 18 to 21, and we were sailing at a smart 9 knots; by noon when we turned due north at the junction of the white and yellow banks, the wind was piping a blustery 22 to 25, now forward of the beam, thus showing 30 knots apparent. Our smiles were gone; our inflatable PFD’s with integral harnesses were firmly cinched up. I never realized waves on the banks could get quite so large. I had figured 4 to 6 feet at most, but by noon we were facing 6 to 8 with some higher, all out of proportion to the wind we were experiencing. This day was not fun, the worst wind and waves of the entire trip, and a day I had to swear to Joy we would never willingly repeat.
Just before 1400 hours we anchored all by ourselves in peace and quiet at West Bottom Harbor, Rose Island, although we smacked a coral head on the way into the anchorage, one I did not see until right on top of it because of the rough water. The next morning we sailed over to Nassau docking at Hurricane Hole Marina by about 1100. We luckily found a lady willing to do our laundry for $7 a load, and paying that little extra freed up our time immensely. We were able to walk over to Paradise Island resort for lunch and a little wandering among the rich and famous, not that Hurricane Hole was lacking in that regard as we had five mega yachts tied up near us. But the facilities at Paradise Island Resort are just staggering. And we had fun slowing working our way back into the “real world” while people watching the cruise ship travelers as they sauntered by our lunch spot at Bimini Road. The next morning we took a cab to New Providence Island (Nassau) to provision at City Market on East Bay street. This grocery is just like home except the prices are a little higher. With a wide selection of food stuffs, we were able to find everything we needed for the return to Florida.
After two days docked at Hurricane Hole we decided to leave the marina one day earlier than our original plan. We would anchor just west of the two big bridges, then be able to head out bright and early for Chub Cay. We anchored to the west of Potter’s Cay where all the mailboats, inter-island freighters, and ferries dock. These ships come and go at all hours of the day and night, so there is an endless cacophony of horns and squealing metal as the ships dock, unload, load, and then leave. It was fun to be here in the midst of all this activity though it took us a couple of tries to set the anchor in this fouled grassy bottom. Many boats anchor here, and we saw several that we had run across along the way down and back. Your boat will swing crazily in this anchorage as winds and currents oppose each other, and boats do not all swing the same way, so you have to allow plenty of room, then still pay attention.
We planned to leave Nassau as soon as it was light so we could arrive at Chubb early, buy fuel there since it was so much easier than in the stiff currents of Nassau, and spend an afternoon relaxing for another early start to Cat Cay. So we rose at 0500, donned our gear and pointed our bow west, gliding past the cruise ship docks and all the anchored boats. Once again, and sadly, we left Nassau and the beautiful islands behind us.