Thursday, April 16, 2009

Amazon Adventure # 16. Night Passage to Royal Island.

Departure from Little Harbour.

This overnight passage is our first since the crossing of the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. Once again we will be out in the deep blue sea and travelling through the night so as to arrive off our landfall in daylight. Navigational aids in the Bahamas must not be taken for granted and weather forecasting is vague at best. We are glad to be making this passage in company of other boats and that we have the VHF radio for communication. Amazon does not handle sailing and motoring to windward through the waves as well as the heavier monohulls can, but she proves that she can do it if she must.

Approaches to Royal Island.

The journal:

Jan. 9th &10th.
We departed Little Harbour at 5pm in company of three other boats. Agreed to keep to 4 knots so as to arrive off the reefs near Egg Island at daybreak. We went over the bar on quiet big rollers ( not like the breakers of the last few days). Set all sail to a light SE breeze, hoisted the motor and fell behind. Finally back on with the engine and caught up with the convoy which was already stretching out toward the horizon. We ate a supper of chilli by the evening light and took in the yankee jib. Moonlight, on with the nav. lights ( they are right at last after that stressful hoist to the top of the mast).

In convoy.

As the night progressed the fitful breeze strengthened and we were sailing very close hauled with the engine on slow. The line of boats ahead of us are little winking lights all in a row. Small waves, sailing fast, catching up. ‘Hole in the wall’ light is out. Radio from another boat – the Egg Island light is out too. Breeze strengthening, boat plunging. H. & A take over the watch at midnight, Gwyn and I are tired and giggly. I semi sleep below feeling the boat twist and groan and crash into the waves. Engine straining. Heather calls me up to confirm that a freighter will indeed miss us.

Dawn shows Knot Bad, Egg Island, and a wreck on the reef.

4AM. Elaine and I take over and continue the crash to windward. Anne has taken the stays`l down, main is partially filled. Refuel from jerry can. Throttle keeps on sticking. Finally, slowly, slowly, comes the dawn. Elaine listens to the radio, the leading boats have arrived; they can see landmarks. We can now see islands on the horizon. The sun rises! Everything takes on colour and life. How satisfying are these sunrise landfalls after the worries, troubles and bleakness of the nights. Addictive.

Amazon takes a short cut between Egg Island and Royal Island.

We catch up with Knot Bad with Santa in charge and follow close behind so he can break a way through the waves for us. We follow him through a narrow passage and soon hoist the stays`l and coast along the shores of Royal Island to the protected anchorage of Royal Harbour.
Fixed the throttle problem (WD40), put away sails, put up sun shelter and go to sleep!

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