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Some time ago, while visiting friends in Montreal, Rebecca and I had the opportunity to attend an after-hours dance club where a fairly famous DJ was playing that evening. Our friends only had to tell us once that the challenge was to stay up all night, dancing from the time the bars closed until the next morning at 11:00 AM when they reopened, for us to be all over it. I bring that up only to reinforce just how competitive Rebecca and I can be when it comes to challenges. And it was in this same vain that we accepted the self-imposed challenge to complete a 24 hour or so sail from Bimini to Nassau, ongoing at the time I am writing this.

After our passage from Florida to Bimini, several people commented that we were now officially blue-water cruisers. Cruisers perhaps, but in our minds at least, after motor-bashing our way across the gulf stream, we had yet to earn the blue water “sailor” badge. Until today! Although most of the people in Alice Town stayed put yesterday, we, for the 2nd time, braved the sketchy channel there and at 12:00 PM, had poked our nose out into the ocean. What we found was again, some substantial wind and waves, but this time, on our stern, a much more favorable direction. We immediately raised our Genoa and have been sailing ever since.

About to head out the Bimini channel. This time Rebecca piloted us out through the big waves.

No, we never get bored of sunsets while underway.

We had multiple options ready for yesterday, including moving as little as a couple of miles to another anchorage at South Bimini. The farthest of our travel options was to head all the way to Nassau, which would make this by far the longest passage we have made, not to mention the farthest we have SAILED!

After making the almost 90 degree turn around South Bimini and onto the shallow water of the Bahamas Banks, the waves laid down for us and we proceeded to have a beautiful sail. It is truly amazing to be surrounded by water in every direction, all of it emerald green and none that is more than 10-12 feet deep. Just as in our passage to Bimini though, we were the only boat on the water, save for the odd commercial tanker. That’s too bad for those waiting there for weather because it has turned out to be perfect!

What have we been doing with ourselves while water bound? Well, we finally had the opportunity to test out our new watermaker and I am happy to report that it performed perfectly. We now have a nice 5-gallon jerry can of beautiful salt-free water. I am confident that this device will be a huge asset for us in our future travels.

Our watermaker output is diverted into this jerry can.

The watermaker’s high-pressure pump working away. Yes, we store toilet paper all around it. We’ll sure know if there’s a leak pretty easily!

Testing salinity, before diverting it to the jerry can. We also do this at the end of the production run. If it tests properly at both times, it can be added to the main water storage tank.

We had a special treat early this morning as we sailed across the Bahamas Banks: a full lunar eclipse. Although much of North America would also witness this celestial event, I can’t think of too many places that would be better to view it than from a sailboat, while sailing across the shallow water of the banks.

It’s pretty tough to take a low-light photo while underway in a moving boat.

What I saw just after I awoke from taking a nap. Beautiful!

Any problems? Well, there was an unintentional offering to Poseidon of one of our two winch handles. This is a pretty crucial piece of kit for a sailboat and now that we only have one left on board, we are holding onto it like crazy. We’ll be sure to pick up 2 more when we get to Nassau. I also managed to break to leech cord on our headsail. It may have been chafed through when we tore the sail the other day. When I pulled on it to tighten it down while sailing, it just came free. Yes, I’ll admit it, it was me who was responsible for both of those two issues!

While typing this, I am listening to the weather forecast being relayed on our SSB/Ham radio and it sure doesn’t sound great for anyone waiting to cross to the Bahamas. As much as we got beat up a bit during our crossing, I’m so so glad that we did it while the opportunity was there. I hope a window does present itself just after Christmas so our friends on Knot Tide Down and Cara Mia can get over here and join us.

Update: Sadly at 10:00 AM Tuesday, the wind left us and we sat bobbing in the swells. Had we continued on with our sailing-only plan, we would not have been able to make it to Nassau until well after dark, a not-so-safe proposition. The engines, once fired up, did their jobs and hurried us along, such that we could make it to our marina slip (yes, another marina) at 2:30 PM.

What’s in store for tomorrow? Great question! Right now it’s lunch and beer time!

Mainsail up and cruising along, shortly before the wind died on us.

24 Comments

  1. Hurrah! You made it! You are now officially bluewater SAILORS! I’m so glad you are there and enjoying everything so much. It brings great joy to the rest of us. Thanks.

  2. Alright, seems you’re getting the hang on things in the Bahamas; not the sailing thing, I meant the beer thing…lol!! Mark

  3. Mike, Please turn spot on so we can watch your progress and not worry. Thanks, JC

  4. Is it possible to make an attachment (lanyard) to the wench handle so that does not occur again……I have no clue so I will learn from this answer……Congrats and welcome to Nassau!

  5. A couple of years ago we built a hard bimini for our boat – with ‘downspouts’ on each corner to collect water when it rained. The bimini is about 10′ x 12′. When we have a hard rain, we can easily collect 20 gallons of water after the rain rinses the caca of the top. We have a watermaker, but never installed it because it uses so much energy and has to be pickled when we don’t use it for a day or three. Many times, in a hard rain, I’ll empty the jerry jugs (4 of them – one on each corner) into the water tank and put them back into service and collect another 20 gallons. As a bonus, I get a nice soft water shower, while emptying the jugs. 40 gallons of free water and the Captain doesn’t smell as funny. Good deal!

    In the tropics, it rains often. Consider installing a water collection system of some sort – it’s worth it.

  6. Ya’ll make it all sound so easy! Glad ya’ll left when you did and are now enjoying the tropics!

  7. When you mentioned about how competitive you two are it suddenly dawned on me. You guys need to send in a video to apply for The Amazing Race. You’d make a great team, and talking about the cruising/sailboat aspect of your relationship would give a pretty unique aspect that the producers might like.

  8. Another challenge accomplished – congrats! Eclipse was neat from land but sounds really cool while you’re on the water. You’re actually sounded like real pros. Yes, you’re bringing great joy to all of us. It’s like we’re there with you. Keep up the great writing!

  9. Imagine if Poseidon had access to the internet. Oh boy, the wonderful ‘slightly used’ boating items he could unload on Craigslist, your winch handle being just one of them. However, I do begrudge him the thick sirloin steak we dropped overboard one night!

  10. Using the watermaker with a portable jug is a clever idea. If either salinity test fails, or if anything gets in there that shouldn’t, you don’t contaminate the good water. Duly noted, for whenever I need to use one of these things….

    And now you’ve made it to Tropical Paradise #1. Congratulations!

    • I have read about people having their watermaker output go directly to their main tank. That is a huge no-no in my eyes. If you have any issue during the run all of your water would be contaminated. Far offshore that could be fatal.

  11. Sounds like a memorable sail.
    When the only sound you hear is the water rushing past the hulls and you feel the wind fill the sails we tell ourselves this is why we bought a sailboat.
    How are the nights? When it is just Regina and I onboard we are too hyped up to do watches. A lot of people have told us that they enjoy nights but we have not been able to relax at night. Your senses seem on high alert and sounds are more intense. The big problem is not falling alseep as we have read about two boats in the Baja this year that the captain fell alseep and woke up on the beach!

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