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November 2011

Week One:

We sat all week on a mooring ball in Vero Beach.

Add the sea to the swell and one could get 20ft seas. Not for us. So we play cards with friends, shop and eat and drink. Maybe at the end of the week. It takes the water at least a day to calm down.


Forecast for 20 to 60 miles out. 

 SUNDAY
 NORTHEAST WINDS 19 TO 24 KNOTS. SEAS 12 TO 15 FEET.
 DOMINANT PERIOD 12 SECONDS. NORTH SWELL 7 TO 10 FEET. INTRACOASTAL
 WATERS ROUGH IN EXPOSED AREAS. SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS.

 SUNDAY NIGHT
 NORTHEAST WINDS 19 TO 24 KNOTS. SEAS 12 TO 14 FEET.
 DOMINANT PERIOD 12 SECONDS. NORTH SWELL 6 TO 9 FEET. INTRACOASTAL
 WATERS ROUGH IN EXPOSED AREAS. SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS.

 MONDAY
 NORTHEAST WINDS 17 TO 22 KNOTS. SEAS 11 TO 13 FEET.
 DOMINANT PERIOD 11 SECONDS. NORTH SWELL 5 TO 8 FEET. INTRACOASTAL
 WATERS CHOPPY IN EXPOSED AREAS. SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS.

 MONDAY NIGHT
 NORTH NORTHEAST WINDS 14 TO 19 KNOTS. SEAS 8 TO
 10 FEET. NORTH NORTHEAST SWELL 3 TO 6 FEET. INTRACOASTAL WATERS A
 LIGHT CHOP. SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS.

 TUESDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY NIGHT
 NORTH WINDS 14 TO 19 KNOTS. SEAS
 6 TO 8 FEET. NORTHEAST SWELL 2 TO 5 FEET. INTRACOASTAL WATERS A
 LIGHT CHOP. SLIGHT CHANCE OF SHOWERS.

 THURSDAY
 NORTHWEST WINDS 11 TO 14 KNOTS NEAR SHORE TO NORTHWEST
 13 TO 16 KNOTS IN THE GULF STREAM. SEAS 4 TO 6 FEET. NORTHEAST SWELL
 AROUND 2 FEET. INTRACOASTAL WATERS A LIGHT CHOP. SLIGHT CHANCE OF
 SHOWERS.
 
 $

Week Two:

We sat another week on a mooring ball in Vero Beach. The weather is still not suitable for a crossing but long term forecast looks better for next week. It's not a bad place to stay we went off to the cinema, more shopping, playing games with others and reading books. Let's hope for a weather window for next week.

Week Three:

We are in the Abaco's after the worst crossing we've ever had.

Last Saturday it looked as if a weather window was opening up so we left Vero Beach Marina (after being velcro'd there for three weeks) and headed towards the West Palm Beach inlet, stopping for two nights in a little anchorage that we know at the north end. It was a pleasant stay, afternoon tea and a game of Shanghai with Vince and Linda. Then on Tuesday afternoon went down to the anchorage just inside the inlet with our buddy boat "Fortnight" for a 4 a.m. start in the morning.

We lift the anchor up and as we head out the inlet we are getting 20 kts of wind out of the SE and the current is going out. The waves in the inlet must have been 6ft and in very short intervals. As a result the boat slows down and we start "diving" into the waves in the dark and the navigation lights on the bow occasionally disappear under a wave. We think that this will be only for a couple of hundred yards or so, so we keep on going. Two miles further on and we are still taking some big waves and the thought of turning around and going back is considered BUT then we would have to go through the inlet again so we keep on going. About 6 miles out it's blowing 20 to 25 and the waves are still 4 - 6ft. with a very short period (the time between each wave). A Short period gives us a very uncomfortable ride. However we keep going. We turn towards "Memory Rock" in the Bahamas and we still can't fill the sails with wind so we then turn to point further north to "White Sands" and we get the wind. The bad seas lasted for about 4 hours during which Andrew was sick and Vanessa took over. We finally got to the Bahama Banks (White Sands) at about 1.30 p.m. and then we had to drop the sails and motor into the SE winds for another 9 hours to Great Sale Cay where we dropped the anchor at 10.30 p.m. Of course the winds picked up as we anchored in pitch darkness and then it began to rain!

We left the next morning at 4.30 a.m. (an hour and a half later than planned...we were both in a deep sleep - wonder why!) and started going round in circles for 10 minutes because it was dark, we were still tired, and we had lost our bearings. As we finally turned at the top of Sale Cay to head east we catch a south wind and now we are motor sailing at 7.5 kts and this lasts 50 miles to Green Turtle Cay ....... however the report on Whale Cay (a very tough passage where "rage" conditions can exist) is that it is calm with 4ft rollers ........ 15 second period ...... easy. So we push on through the Whale. Earlier in the day we heard that bad weather was due to arrive later that night and remain for several days. We decided that we could get into Abaco Beach Resort by 6 p.m. 30 minutes after sunset. And that's where we are now. Pooped and pleased to be tied up safely with friends. It's BLOWING!

Big truck snags one of the branches of the Live Oaks in Vero Beach.

Linda, Vanessa and Vince passing the time with a card game aboard Fortnight.

Some great looking houses on the side af the waterway.

View out the back of our boat at North Palm Beach

Fortnight (our buddy boat) at our favorite anchorage in North Palm Beach

Great sailing from Sale Cay to Green Turtle Cay

As we pass Green Turtle

Andrew having recovered !

Vanessa raising the quarantine flag for arrival in a Bahamian port.

Route taken to cross to the Bahamas

"An Explanation of a Rage" By Dave Gale

"There's a Rage on." This is a Abaco expression used to describe dangerously rough reef and channel conditions which can occur during fair weather with or without wind.

A rage is caused by a combination of large ocean swells and Abaco's unusual geographic layout with its sound, barrier reef and channels. Ground swells generated by distant storms crash and flow over and around Abaco's barrier reef and Cays, building the water level of the Abaco sound ( AKA Sea of Abaco) higher than the ocean itself. these unequal water levels soon become unstable and the waters of the Sound rush back out toward the swells which, of course, are still trying to come in. This causes unusually large waves . After the two levels become roughly equal, there maybe a brief relative calm, but the cycle will repeat. A passable channel report by a helpful observer may be valid only an hour or so.

The factors affecting the intensity or frequency of the cycle are:

The state of the tide  -- the ebb or flow, or the slack

The phase of the moon -- the spring or neap tides

The wave-set patterns.

A rogue wave or an extra big one.

Certain combinations of these factors can cause exceptionally large and dangerous waves in the channels or deceptive, all too-short relatively calm periods. The worst combinations of factors might be at the beginning of the tide's ebb: at the start of a rushing-out period; during a spring tide; or just as a particularly large set of swells is coming in. That's when there may be a really big wave.

Some channels on Abaco develop Rage conditions more readily than others, but sometimes all channels are unusable.  It depends on the direction of the ground swells. Whale Cay Passage enjoys the most deadly reputation.

If there is a Rage on, it is inadvisable to attempt any channel either to or from the ocean, especially the Whale Cay Passage. the reefs would also be untenable for diving, snorkeling and fishing and should be avoided until the Rage has subsided. A Rage can last from two to five days.

Precautions -- Ask for local advice from boats in the area, marinas or BASRA stations.  Observe the channel for 15 minutes to better judge the wave action.  But remember that with the change of the tide or any of the factors listed above, the conditions could become worse (or deceptively better in the short-term) than anyone's advice had indicated.  Only you can be the judge of your boat's seaworthiness and you and your crew's ability.  A good passage report may only be valid for an hour or so. 

In the immortal, but unofficial, VHF announcement by one of our BASRA volunteers, "This here's a message to all boats. This is BASRA. Any boat thinking about going through Whale Cay today -- DON'T!  Now, if ye get lost, we ain't sendin' no boat for ye." Amen.

 

Week Four:

It's amazing how time flies! We've been here for eight days now and it feels like we never left. What a wonderful community it is! During the week several more boats have joined us in the harbor and we expect many more will follow as and when they get a good crossing forecast.

The strong NE winds have been relentless but they let up for one day this week so we were able to venture out into the sea of Abaco and enjoy a swim in the beautiful, crystal clear waters. Andrew used his "hookah" (homemade diving unit) to check out the prop, hull and rudder, and scrub off some of the nasty barnacles and algae that had affixed itself to us.

Activities have begun......the walkers are out each morning and water aerobics have started, pickle ball and crafts will soon begin. The community veggie garden is in full swing and it's rained this week so the seeds we planted a few days ago are already rearing their pretty heads. Several cruisers carried bags of soil over from the States so we have a better chance for a good crop this season.

It's Thanksgiving week and we are thankful to be here in this idyllic setting with so many friends. We had a pizza party midweek and then we enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner aboard "Oasis 1V" (Thank you Sandy - the hostess with the mostest).

Now it's time to work of all the lovely treats. Weed the garden maybe? Go for a walk? Swim? So many options!

Andrew .... underwater with air line.

Pizza eveining under the lights.

Sandy and Jeff aboard Oasis for Thanksgiving.

The garden comes alive.