Posted by: vlbyers | June 1, 2013

South coast Cuba to Bahamas

Larry and I would be on our own for the next few weeks, making our way to Nassau, Bahamas. I had gone over the charts making our route with possible stops along the way depending on weather and us. As is our usual we will make decisions based on what it going on but one option was to go straight through for 3 days to get to the N Exumas where we would only have 30 more miles to go to Nassau.
I have to say, other than the motoring east along the coast of Cuba it was one of the best sails we have had on Rocinante. We stuck to the south coast of Cuba until reaching the Windward passage, we were warned not to go this route by a sailor who said he tried it 3 years in a row and couldn’t make it through, needless to say we were a bit apprehensive wanting to make it through with at least an East wind, south-east would be better.
Once we rounded the corner of Cuba heading into the passage the wind was in our favor and we turned off the engine for what would be the longest continuous sail we have done.
Seasick Vicki was a figment of our imagination on this journey, thank goodness, not a trace remained. We had from 8-20 k E, SE and sometimes a little North component but we were able to make good northern progress on a starboard tack, adjusting sails occasionally only to improve our speed.
Our chart plotter at the nav station has complete charts which is what we would be using to make our way from the Exuma sound across to the bank. I had mapped out several options but in the cruising guide the recommended route going to Nassau would be through the Highborne Cut.
Our timing was pretty good as we got to the cut about noon, we had gotten to our rhythm and I got a full 4 hour sleep that morning, thankfully, as this crossing would test our nerves.
Hearing that charts were way off in the Bahamas we didn’t know if we should trust our chartplotter even though there were recommended routes pre-loaded, so we put in waypoints to navigate this tricky but supposed wide deep channel. One of the challenges was that the directions for navigating through was given from west to east, we would not see the markers until we were well into the channel.
I set up the waypoints, Larry was at the helm and I would go to the bow to make sure rocks would not harm our precious boat. Of course there was a good bit of swell and the wind had kicked up as we began our entry. The path was not clear to me at all, I saw rocks ahead and to our right which was where we were to turn so after getting far too close in I told Larry that we had to turn around and look at the charts and regroup.
Once back out in deeper water, well 8 feet, we compared the chart and the waypoint and determined that the waypoint was not accurate. The rocks I was seeing were well-marked on the chart so we made our way using the route on the chart and our eyes of course to slowly creep through the channel. Like I said, once we were about halfway through it was much clearer the route we should take.
Once past the marina we made our way for the anchorage where we would have well deserved rest for the remainder of the day and night, no rock and roll sleeping tonight, no watches, pure bliss.
After our wonderful night sleep as we listened to the weather it was clear that our departure had to be that morning for Nassau, quickly stowing and readying the boat we were off in a matter of minutes, it was 0930, later than we would have chosen if we had planned to leave. This would get us into Nassau later than we had planned and at low tide.
Nassau arrival to come

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