We knew that our departure for the Bahamas was not ideal, but we also thought we’d be able to grin and bear it. We were wrong.
We’ve been up before the sun each day, straining to catch the voice of Chris Parker (nautical weather guru), coming at us through our handheld SSB radio. We’ll rely on Mr. Parker and his broadcasts from here on out to give us the green light for sailing to and around the Bahamas and Caribbean. After long last, he indicated that a brief passage window “for salty sailors” (meaning, expect waves and wind on the face) was approaching. Being at least lightly salted by now, we decided to give it a shot.
It was pretty exciting lying in bed thinking about the passage the morning would bring. We’d gone over our charts many times and examined plans A, B, and C depending on what it was actually like out there. In reality, we got 6-8 feet waves that washed higher over the boat than we’d ever seen waves go before and wind on the nose that howled insanely in our ears. The main sail didn’t do a thing to stabilize us. We gave it a shot for an hour, at which point we’d had enough of the soak and the pounding on the boat. With heavy hearts, we returned to No Name Harbor in Key Biscayne, FL, where we’d been waiting for the last four days, with much adventure.
The boats of the Rico Rally, rafted together one last time in No Name Harbor, Key Biscayne, FL
Abrasions on the brand new dinghy, caused by the brand new davits on our maiden voyage with both. No bueno. Here, the damaged area is surrounded by painter’s tape as I prepare to apply a patch. This is why we can’t have nice things.
Brian, hoisted in the bosun’s chair, padding the area where the davits rubbed the dinghy. I sewed some special covers for pieces foam pool noodles (not pictured) to protect the dinghy from the davits.
I’d read a lot about boats dragging their anchors, and saw it with my own eyes for the first time in No Name Harbor. I took this photo of the dragging boat that’s about to hit our neighbor’s boat while I sat on anchor watch, ready with fenders to protect our boat. The drama unfolded over the course of an hour. The crew of the dragging boat was not aboard at the time, so all we could do was protect the boats from hitting each other.
At this point, the white and blue boat, sv Tortuga, had dragged enough to be alongside the tan boat, sv Wanderlust. The crew of Wanderlust was prepared with fenders.
To make a bad situation worse, this large power yacht filled with partiers insisted on pulling up to the dock directly in the path of the dragging boat, and way too close to our three rafted boats. I yelled to him that he was putting his boat at risk, but power boat captains in Florida are unwilling to take advice from sailors, especially those who are women.
Eventually, the dragging sailboat drifted to the cement docks, missing the power boat by inches. Brian and Jon sprang to action, jumped into the dinghy, and managed to secure the drifting boat without damage. The power boater sprinted over from the nearby island bar to help, but only because his boat was about to be crushed. It made for quite the scene on the dock.
Once the dragging saga subsided, our neighbor boat, sv Wanderlust, decided to re-anchor. Brian and Justin watched him struggle, and we noticed something was caught on his anchor. Brian and Justin raced over in the dinghy to see what the problem was.
It turned out that some other boat had cut their anchor free and left it at the bottom of the anchorage. Brian and Justin hauled it out of the water, along with 50 feet of brand new chain. Problem solved, and Justin has a new anchor and chain.
We had a celebrity visitor during our first day in No Name Harbor; Gerry ODonohue! Gerry is currently gut-renovating his own Whitby 42 (same boat as us) and he chronicles his experiences on the popular blog The Incredible Hull. We’d tried meeting up with him back in Miami, but it never worked out, so imagine our surprise when he cruised by us on his friend’s boat in No Name Harbor and recognized Justin and then Brian’s beard from Facebook. Gerry and his friend rafted up for a nice visit. Our new friends, Brad and Suzanne on sv Tortuga, took our photo as we posed on the bow of Nightingale Tune.
Our final night together as the Rico Rally. I made burgees for each of our boats as a memento of our adventures together. Jon and Justin have moved on to Marathon, FL (where Justin calls home) for the holidays, and then Jon will continue on toward Cuba, as he works towards his goal of circling the globe aboard sv Hecla.
Lighthouse on the point outside of No Name Harbor, discovered during our morning run.
Having a swim off the bow of Nightingale Tune
sv Nightingale Tune, anchored on the outskirts of No Name Harbor. We’ll be here, swimming off the boat and chilling, waiting for conditions suitable for crossing to the Bahamas.
No Name Harbor is a great little anchorage, but we’re itching to move on already. We’ll try again for the Bahamas in the morning, hoping that once we get out of the channel, we’ll find calmer seas. If we do not, we’ll be here for Christmas, and possibly New Years too, waiting for Chris Parker to give us the go-ahead. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but we’re ready for the Bahamian leg of this adventure to begin. Send good vibes.