Bahamas and Florida

1st March - 7th May 2013

We headed out of Nassau harbour in company with our New Zealand friends Millie and Harriet on Southern Blue. We'd opted for the 24 hour, overnight trip down to Georgetown on Great Exuma Island, as bad weather was looming in 36 hours. The trip was very peaceful, a pleasant sail and motor-sail, with a fireworks display laid on by one island to entertain us and Southern Blue's lights on the horizon to make the journey less lonely. We were the only boats out there. We arrived at Georgetown early morning and finally settled in good spots near Monument beach, taking care as always to set our anchor well and then to help the Kiwis with theirs in anticipation of the rapidly approaching cold front.

Sailing to Georgetown

Anju passing through Highbourne cut

Spooky picture of Anju

Sure enough the bad weather arrived in the late afternoon, bringing howling winds and pouring rain. Anju and Southern Blue safely rode out the passage of the cold front, whilst keeping a keen eye on two boats in front of us which had become entangled when one of them dragged anchor. The smaller yacht had become impaled on the huge wooden bowsprit of the larger yacht onto which it had dragged. With the help of several brave souls in dinghies, they eventually became free of one another. After keeping anchor watch for several hours, exhausted, we fell into bed.

Anju and Southern Blue riding out the big blow.

Our pleasant three week stay in Georgetown was filled with our favourite Bahamian pastime, beach-combing on the almost deserted beaches. The high winds and swells we experienced for several days after the cold front passed brought in a bumper crop of shell treasure to the shore.

Beach Treasure

Phil was off to the biweekly Texas Holdem' Poker tournament, making it into the top four money places each of the times he played and once coming in first, adding $100 to our cruising kitty!

Every Thursday lunchtime, regular as clockwork, we were visited in our anchorage by a friendly pod of three dolphins, two adults and a baby. One week it was Anju who was chosen to be the subject of their curiosity and they spent an hour swimming round and round our boat, drawing quite a crowd of on-lookers.

Our weekly visitors take a look at Anju

Deserted Ocean side beach

Georgetown, as ever, was a good spot to catch up with old friends. First we were joined by Roger and Judy who had been our neighbours at the marina. Rob and Barbara anchored near us on their stunning new catamaran, Riff Raff. OCC buddies Julie and George arrived on Seaquel among many others

Judy and Roger


After about three weeks, we'd managed a book our return flights from the USA. This had been a challenge, taking a whole day, seven attempts at making our reservation, two cancelled credit cards and a long, wet and bumpy dinghy ride to the internet cafe in Georgetown, to sort the whole mess out! The banks' new improved vigilance of credit card security was definitely a good thing but sometimes the consequences of their caution caused a whole lot of trouble to their customers!

It was time to meander north and when we got a good opportunity, we set sail to Big Major's spot. Here was snorkelled in the ever stunning Thunderball Cave, of James Bond fame. We were engulfed in a multitude of curious, brightly coloured fish. We also spotted the unfortunately obligatory rogue poison-tipped lion fish, invaders of the islands which are causing untold damage to the Bahamas' native reef fish populations.

We took a dinghy ride for an encounter with Big Majors' famous swimming pigs. With all the snacks fed to them by passing cruisers and tourists, the pigs were huge and not averse to trying to clamber aboard your dinghy if snacks weren't forthcoming! Emtpy-handed, we were saved from swimming swine attack only by the arrival of another dinghy of tourists bearing food!

Please don't eat our dinghy!

Gerda and Jack on the new Sadie A

Anju anchored at Big Majors Spot.

We were happy our dinghy survived it's swine molestation and even happier to spot a wrecked dinghy on the shore from which we could salvage some Hypalon material to patch the ever increasing leaks in the old girl.

At Staniel Cay we also chanced across Gerda and Jack in their new Sadie A. The previous Sadies had been sail boats but now they had converted to a power boat. It was great to catch up with them and take a tour of their beautiful new Sadie A.

Hmmm. Not much hope of spotting that at night! Somebody obviously got too close!

We made an overnight stop at Shroud Cay, where we dinghied through the mangrove lined channels within the island and then spent a rolly night at anchor in a southern swell and we were bound for Florida, via Nassau. We left Nassau at daybreak and crossed onto the Great Bahama Banks, late afternoon. We were curious to see the location of the North West Channel light, a navigation mark we'd been unable to spot on our overnight trip eastwards. When we did finally pass the position where it was shown on the chart, it turned out that it was more of a hazard than an aid to navigation! We'd be sure not to pass too close at night.

By mid morning the following day we were about to pass back into the waters of the USA when we hooked a good-sized Mahi-Mahi (Dolphin Fish) in the Gulf Stream.

Time to fill the freezer!

Attractive Water Front Property in Lake Worth, not very convenient for any local amenitities!

Back at West Palm Beach by lunchtime, we anchored near the inlet to clear US Customs and Immigration. With a forecast of severe weather for the following day, on our return, we moved Anju up to the more sheltered anchorage at North Palm Beach. We just had chance to make a trip ashore for supplies the next morning before returning to our boat in anticipation of the forecast storms. Sure enough they hit us late afternoon, bringing fifty knots of wind, zero visibility in driving rain and causing Anju to heel over at anchor, when it first hit, opening the drawers of our tool cabinets and dumping tools on the floor! We sat anchor watch, motor running just in case and were greatly relieved when the weather finally ended and Anju stayed put. In such visibility, trying to re-anchor would have been perilous!

Next day another beautiful steel boat pulled in and anchored in front of them. Ironically “Zen” had spent the previous day anchored by the inlet, where we had been originally and Johanne and Jean had not experienced anything like the severe weather we'd endured! They invited us aboard their gorgeous boat for a tour and to compare notes on maintenance of our steely beauties!

We had decided to head back to the marina quickly, to carry out some more maintenance before putting Anju away for the summer and the next day there was a wonderful weather window to make the two day journey back to Jacksonville in North Florida. In fact our progress was so good and the timing of the tides just right and we were headed into the St. John's river inlet at dawn two days later. Just after lunch we were anchored at the marina and after catching up on some sleep, ready to get to work again for the remainder of our time in the USA.

Nosy neighbour on pier 10 keeps a beady eye on Anju!

Green Cove Springs Space Programme!

As we worked, we debated the arrival on a nearby dock of a large tank, which had arrived by barge. We wondered if Green Cove Springs was about to launch its own space programme, is our best guess was that it was a Space Shuttle fuel pod. We weren't wrong. The tank had been acquired by a small museum inland in North Florida and had arrived by barge from Cape Canaveral. It was to sit in Green Cove Springs for some time whilst a method of getting it to its final destination was devised. Apparently this would involve moving roadside power lines among other hazards!

Ten days at anchor passed quickly, followed by about ten days in the yard as we worked down the job list. By the time we left for our two month trip home, Anju was spick and span, snuggled up in her summer shade cloth covering and settled into the storage yard for the long, hot summer.

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