We had a great crossing over from Puerto Rico to Long Island, Bahamas. The wind vane worked perfectly, and we relaxed while Sol Purpose sailed herself!
We had thought about stopping at Mayanagua, but the winds weren’t favourable, so we continued on to Clarence Town. We dropped anchor in a beautiful, crystal clear bay and remembered why we loved the Bahamas so much.
We had completed the online entry requirements but had to wait a couple of days for the immigration officers to make the trip down to Clarence Town. In the meantime, we decided to go ashore anyway and enjoy a meal and a drink onshore. One of the local restaurants was having its grand re-opening (following hurricane damage), so we headed there and enjoyed a great meal and a few drinks – including the largest pour of amaretto we had ever seen!
Clarence Town is a hotspot for offshore fishing and when we were there a boat came in and had caught a nice wahoo which they filleted on the dock. There was a feeding frenzy between the nurse sharks at the dock.
The next day, Moray went pole-spear fishing and came back with a lovely mangrove snapper. The fish made a lovely meal, served with rice and plantains, but I’m not sure I approve of Moray literally fighting with a shark to get it!
After completing the immigration process, we moved round the island to Calabash Bay in Cape Santa Maria, where we again dropped anchor in a beautiful bay. We spent a couple of nights here, enjoying the beautiful water. Moray went fishing again, and came back with a lobster and a grouper. Did I mention that we love the Bahamas!
Next, we headed for Georgetown, where the annual cruisers’ regatta was about to start. We arrived just in time to take part in the poker run. This was hilarious, as our little dinghy was so slow, but we managed to make it to each bar to get our cards and headed back to Chat n Chill, just in time to hear the winner announced!
We had a great time in Georgetown. We caught up with old friends from Georgetown itself, but also from TMCA, our sailing club back in Kemah, TX. We made new friends, taking part in the round-the harbour and the round-the-island race on Kanaloa. We didn’t win, but it was a close race and we came in second and we had great fun!
Another wonderful evening was spent enjoying a concert on the water on our dinghy. Thanks to The Sailing Piano for great entertainment, especially for arranging for the ray to make a guest appearance!
After several days in Georgetown, we decided to start making our way back north, making our first stop at Lee Stocking Island. There were already several boats there, so we picked our way through the shallows until we found a good anchoring spot, with plenty of room. We stayed a couple of nights, waiting out some adverse sailing weather, and enjoying some peace and quiet after the hustle and bustle of Georgetown. Moray caught three more lobster – what a great provider he is 😉
Our next stop was a return visit to Musha Cay, which we had loved on our first two visits. We were the only boat there the first night, though several passed us heading down to Rudder Cut. The second day we were joined by one other boat. Moray had had a lot of success fishing here before, and happily, managed to get yet another lobster. He brought it back to the boat, cleaned it and we prepared it for dinner. The other boat had also been fishing, and had cleaned their fish. Luckily everyone, was safely on board, as the fish parts attracted a beautiful, but scary visitor – a hammerhead shark.
Our next stop on our trip down memory lane was Little Farmers Cay. The weather dictated that we anchor on the opposite side of the island this time, but it was not a problem, with plenty of room. We took the dinghy ashore, only to find that Ty’s was closed and didn’t look like it had been open for a while. So instead, we had dinner at the sailing club, which was delicious.
The following day we made a short run up to Blackpoint and dropped anchor well tucked into the corner of the anchorage, as another round of strong winds was forecast. We went to shore to do laundry and buy a few groceries. We wanted a swim, so Moray took the opportunity to clean the bottom of the boat and check on the dinghy, which seemed to have sprung a leak. He found a small hole, which, from its position, we believe was caused by a lobster spine – I can’t really blame the lobster under the circumstances…
Next was a short run up to Staniel Cay. We couldn’t set the anchor on our first attempt, so we moved a little and had no problems there. We took the dinghy ashore to have a drink or two at the Yacht Club before heading back to the boat.
The next day saw another short hop to Little Hall’s Pond. This involved a bit of breathholding as we picked our way through a very shallow channel, heading for an anchorage that would give us shelter from yet another windstorm. When we headed for the first anchorage, we ran aground briefly, but soon we were safely anchored and hunkered down.
With the storm over, we were able to pull up anchor and retrace our steps through the shallow channel until we were safely into deeper water and on our way to Shroud Cay. From there we motorsailed for a day up to Nassau. We had never been here before and had not heard a lot of good things, but we thought we would give it a try as we needed to buy a dinghy patch kit. It was a good decision. We dropped anchor in the East Channel, along with several other boats. The Nassau Yacht Haven charges $1 per foot to land a dinghy, but it is then safe behind a locked gate so that was fine. We walked across the bridge to Paradise Island to take a look at Atlantis. I had been there about 12 years before, but it didn’t seem as glamorous as it did back then – expensive machines and even more expensive tables – so we left to head back towards the boat. We took a detour to the fish fry under the bridge and had a great meal of conch fritters before walking back to the boat.
The next morning, after a quick grocery run, we motored over to Rose Island. We had planned to stay but the constant stream of powerboats racing past made it uncomfortable, so we decided to change plans. At 5pm, we pulled up anchor and made an overnight run to the Abacos. We arrived right at high tide, which gave us enough depth to get through the entrance channel, where we took a mooring ball. We spent 5 nights here in Little Harbour, riding out a storm. We got a chance to walk the island, looking at the great views, as well as hunkering down against the bad weather and patching the dinghy.
On March 23rd, the weather was better, so at high tide, we left through the channel, and took a two hour sail up to Tyloo Cay. We went swimming in the bay, which was great.
Continuing our dayhops up through the Abacos, we went to Aunt Pat’s Bay/Elbow Cay, but couldn’t find a good dinghy dock, trash drop off or nice, affordable restaurant, so we moved on up to an anchorage just outside Hopetown. We went ashore and found that we could drop off trash for free the next morning. We took a nice walk around the island and then went to the hotel for a nice dinner. The next morning, Moray took a quick trip back in to town to drop off the trash, before we set off to Treasure Cay. We dropped anchor in the bay there, in pretty much the same place as 5 years earlier. It was very sad to see that the whole island had been pretty much destroyed by a hurricane, and the lovely hotel and bar had not been rebuilt. Fortunately, the fuel dock is still in place and fully functional, so we were able to refuel for the long trip back to the USA.
We started early the next morning and, after a quick stop at the fuel dock, we crossed over to Manjack Cay. There was plenty of room, despite a large number of boats, so we had a pleasant stop. Then it was a short trip to Allen Cay. We were the only boat there, and the island is uninhabited, so it was a lovely relaxing spot for sunbathing and swimming 😉
Surprise, surprise, another windstorm was forecast, so we had to move from our lovely spot and move to Great Sale Cay. From there we motored for several hours, wind on the nose, to Grand Cay where we dropped anchor and got ready for the journey back to the USA.
On Thursday March 30th, at 9:50am, we set off. By noon, we had good winds, so we set the sails and the windvane and let Sol Purpose take over. On Friday 31st, we were in the Gulf Stream, and were making up to 10 knots of speed. On Saturday April 1st, the weather forecast did not look good for keeping going to Morehead City, so we turned towards Fernandina Beach in northern Florida, turned on the motor and made our way along the St. Mary’s channel. The tide was slack as we entered the bay and dropped anchor at sunrise.
We spent a couple of days in Fernandina Beach, waiting for a weather window to carry on to Morehead City. We had a chance to explore this pretty little town, as well as get a new cellphone so that we had a working US phone. We had a fantastic evening ashore, meeting some great people and eating good food in the Salty Pelican Bar & Grill.
The weather improved so on Monday, April 3rd, after a quick visit to the fuel dock, we set off again. The winds were changeable so we had a mix of sailing and motoring, and got to Morehead City at midnight. We don’t like to arrive somewhere at night but we certainly don’t like being in the ICW at night, so we had to anchor in the dark. We were very tired and misread the charts, ending up aground. However, it was soft mud and we were soon off the bottom and safely anchored just outside the channel. We got some sleep and at 6:45am set off again. After a few hours gentle motoring, we arrived in The Galley Stores Marina in New Bern, and our travels were done 🙂 😦
We are very lucky to have very good friends! Bob & Clare, who have been so supportive over the past 12 years or so, have a home here in New Bern and they graciously invited us to stay, and even more, to use their truck. We accepted, and this made the next few weeks so much easier. First, we got a storage unit and moved everything we could off the boat. Then we took Sol Purpose over to Duck Creek, where she was hauled out and put on stands. Once she was out of the water and power washed, we could see there was some damage to the rudder. So we arranged for Turtle, a local contractor, to take care of the repair, while we started on thoroughly cleaning inside and making some repairs – re-caulking the heads and kitchen, re-varnishing some patches, re-painting the bottom, gelcoat patches, wax and polishing the hull etc. etc. The rudder repair was complete, and we were preparing to paint the bottom when we got a call from our broker that we had a potential buyer, who wanted to look at the boat in two days. This came as a shock as the boat hadn’t been listed yet and we thought it wouldn’t be for another two weeks. We couldn’t let the opportunity go by, so we worked like crazy to get the boat into a reasonable condition for a walkthrough. We managed to get the bottom job finished the day before our potential buyer arrived to inspect her.
He spent a couple of hours looking over the boat before he headed off with the broker and we got ready to put Sol Purpose back in the water.
The water in Duck Creek can be very shallow, so it was another 3 days before we could get her back to The Galley Stores Marina, followed by 10 days of intense cleaning and maintenance. Then, came the day of the survey. Bright and early, everyone arrived at Sol Purpose and the surveyor and buyer went over her with a fine tooth comb. Next, we took her over to Bridgeton Boatyard, to be hauled out again, for an out of the water survey. Here we had a bit of a hiccup – through no fault of the skipper, as we were approaching the haulout well, we hit something. The boat came to a stop and Moray backed off as fast as he could. Once hauled out, we could see a small but obvious spot where we had hit, and all that freshly applied bottom paint was gone 😦
The inspection was done, Sol Purpose was put back in the water and it was time for the sea trial. Again, this should have been the easiest part, but there was literally no wind. We had trouble putting two of the sails out, partly because of the lack of wind.
Soon the sea trial was over, and we headed back to shore. We had a somewhat stressful weekend, but on Monday we got the great news that the buyer wanted to go ahead with the purchase, with a couple of requirements. We accepted and then had to take Sol Purpose back to Duck Creek, where she was hauled out for the third time in three weeks! We painted the patch where we had run aground, and had the cutlass bearing replaced. Now Sol Purpose is back in the Galley Stores Marina, looking spick and span, waiting for her new owner to come and claim her this weekend.
We have had an amazing 13 years with Sol Purpose. She has provided us with a home, taken us to 3 continents, 31 countries, given us heartache and fun, but above all kept us safe. We will miss her, but it is time for her and us to move on to new adventures.
** FANCY DRESS ANSWER FROM GEORGETOWN PICTURE ABOVE: Sole + Perp + Hose = Sol Purpose