“Hold On”, Bill hollers… 5 seconds later the boat rolled 30 degrees to starboard. If the No Rush were a monohull instead of a catamaran it would be business as usual, but on this boat … not so much. Still, it wasn’t a big deal , just the biggest roll so far. Cruising cats don’t heel like a keel boat, but they do roll with the sea. So, when Bill hollered, I braced and as soon as the wave had passed I went on with what I was doing. Everything on deck and below stayed pretty much in place and there was no crashing or cursing from the galley. The big wave was more of a surprise, at worst an inconvenience, nothing more. Bill did catch a face full of seawater but we were used to that, it happened two or three times a night when we poked our heads above the pilot house to scan the horizon for other ships.
0600 hours We are reaching hard for the banks around Ragged Island. The front came in full force about 4:30. I had gone below about 0000 hours and Bill let me sleep until I woke at 0430. When I came up on deck the boat was hove to and losing ground at about 1.5 kts. Bill was stretched out on the port settee and I did the same on the starboard side until dawn.
0800 hours As soon as it was light enough to see without flashlights we put in the third reef and hauled in for a close reach to the narrows. We were overtaken by a big commercial freighter also heading for the mouth of the Old Bahama Channel and as he crossed our bow, plowing through the 8 foot seas…Bill and I looked at each other and knew it was going to be a long hard pull. Big wind and high seas, right on our nose.
1100 hours Three hours later and we had gained only 3 nm on the point where Bill had originally hove to. So… we changed tactics and turned the boat downwind toward Ragged Island. We held that course for about an hour and checked the chartplotter and the paper chart. The island was appealing, there is a small settlement that would be fun to explore. Unfortunately all the anchorages would be off the windward shore, not a good place to drop a hook. We didn’t know what the holding ground was and the wind wasn’t going to let up soon. So… we changed tactics and headed back into the wind. We steered toward a tongue of deep water that leads into the shallow banks above Ragged. The idea was that the banks to windward would calm the seas enough to give us safe passage, entering the shallows from the lea side. Had we tried to enter the banks directly from the windward side, the seas piling up on the shallow water would have been treacherous.
Right now…I’m in my nest, curled up with pillows. I just finished the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure on the laptop. Bill calls me up when it’s time to tack, otherwise I’m content listening to The Beatles White album on the IPod or the “mystery music” coming from the boat. Both of us have been hearing music when no music is being played. It’s weird… Bill says he hears Opera and I hear everything from heavy metal to slow ballads. Just now I could swear that I heard a steel drum playing “Stand By Your Man”. There is huge variety of sounds coming from the boat… swishing water along the hulls, bangs and thumps from the waves, the generator humming… all mixing together making a grey noise that my mind is turning into something familiar. I kind of like the playlist my brain is creating from chaos.
1245 hours Bill must not be happy with the progress that we are making because he just started the motor.
1400 hours Still on motor the seas are pounding us.
1730 hours At anchor somewhere on the banks west of Ragged Island. It didn’t get as shallow as the charts promised but what can you expect from a chart that is based on a survey from the British Admiralty in 1845. (No lie… it says so right on the legend!)
2000 hours On the Banks I put out a fishing hook … just because… We lounged around reading and watching the sky. The winds are still high (18kts) but the seas are down thanks to the shallows. We are still bouncing around and it’s far from an ideal anchorage but it beats the hell out of the big rollers of deep water. We are in 35 feet of water which is a bit deep for the scope and the anchor did drag a little but seems to be holding fine now. It’s comfortable for us even if it is a bit blowy forward. Thank God there are no wives aboard or we would be in the endless anchor debate.
Time to watch “The Big Labowsky”
North of the Cuban coast and a long way from anywhere