|Askari at Clarence Town|
Many people told us we were crazy to bring Askari to the Bahamas due to areas of very shallow water. Askari is certainly deep draught for the Bahamas at more than 7 feet. However, Andrew has carefully studied the charts (like every night….), we have used waypoints and taken the opportunity to move around in good light spotting reefs and shoals – skills we learned in the Pacific many years ago. The result has been a fabulous experience over the last two months and with the exception of a couple of weeks of bad weather, just after the new year, the conditions have been fantastic and the sailing has been really exhilarating in shallow, calm water. We have had so many nights in secluded spots on our own, ticked off a few of the ‘must do’ touristy things and made memories to last a lifetime. Whilst you could spend years exploring these wonderful islands and cays with gentle people and easy bureaucracy we felt we had seen enough to venture on and saw a good weather window approaching to head south.
|Bean Bag Sailing|
We spent one last chilled night at Cat Island and then got up early for a sail to Long Island. The first hour was a lovely downwind drift to Hawks Nest on the South East tip of Cat Island then we turned into the wind for a boisterous 30 miles upwind sail to the top end of Long Island, the wind was pretty fluky and it was a fairly tough sail making changes all the time. However, around 2pm we snuck into the lee of the island and it was like a different day. Long Island is really shallow but Andrew had identified two bays we could hopefully find a spot to anchor, although we expected swell and or surge. He cautiously worked through the unmarked reef with me on the bow, mostly just being terrified but supposedly looking out for dangers…. We tucked right in the North of Columbus Cove in water that was just so amazingly blue and dropped the anchor. It was a bit surgey but more of a gentle pulse than swell; which can roll the boat and drive you mad and have to sleep like a gecko pinned to the bunk. We had a beautiful sunset and even saw a green flash –it was really worth being brave for this.
|Sunset at Columbus Cove|
|Our view at Columbus Cove|
Next stop was on the East side of Long Island – Clarence Town. Another early start and the first hour was a really shitty motor sailing directly into the wind to get around the Cape and the reefs that extend off it. We then turned South East and sailed down the island. It started off really well with nice conditions, however the sea really picked up, with the current and then the swell was bouncing off the island and coming right back at us. For one of very few times in my life I actually felt sea sick….. You can’t quite believe the bay at Clarence Town is protected looking at the chart, however we sailed right into the bay, dropped the sails and the worked our way into a spot behind the reef alongside Strachan Cay. It was spectacular and so calm. There were three other boats – two French and one Canadian, who had been here 3 weeks. We had planned to leave the next day however this was such a beautiful spot and the sea was due to calm the following day so we decided to stay a day and explore – we also enjoyed a fabulous lunch at the Flying Fish Marina.
|Entering Clarence Town|
|View of the pass into Clarence Town|
|Our view at Clarence Town|
The weather window south was opening and we started to hear of lots of boats heading East – something that is usually really hard to do at this time of the year. We made our final decision not to follow them but continue South to Cuba – oh my gosh we are brave after all, or stupid – only time will tell!