Florida and the Bahamas

31st January - 29th April 2014

We'd left Anju pretty much ready to hit the water, so all we had to do when we got back to Florida was order a new dinghy to replace our seriously deflated old one. We were in the water in a matter of days and spent a while on the dock and on a mooring, recommissioning all the systems. A week later we were on our way down the St. Johns River towards Jacksonville.

On the dock, ready to go.

St. Johns River

It was fortunate that we hadn't quite reached the busy centre of Jacksonville, with its strong currents and bridges when the engine cut out. This time we vowed that next time we leave the boat in storage, we'll change the engine fuel filter before we leave the dock!

With a new, clean filter, all was well and we spent a night on the free dock at the Landing. Our friends Ryan, Robin and Kierra came downtown to join us for a Valentine's Day meal before we headed offshore to Miami the next day. Once again, we spent a romantic wedding anniversary on overnight passage to Miami! We made a stop for a few hours at Lake Worth, Palm Beach to ensure we arrived in Miami in daylight, two days after leaving Jacksonville.

Ships that pass in the night.....

A few days later we had a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream for the Bahamas. In fact there was practically no weather at all and we made the crossing in almost a dead calm, which made the crossing both comfortable and fast with the help of our trusty Yanmar diesel. About 30 hours after leaving Miami, we were already near Nassau and decided to press on straight for Georgetown.

Crossing to the Bahamas

Haitians headed for Nassau

Crossing the banks to the Exumas we encountered a boat, seriously overloaded with Haitian migrants, desperately trying to make their way towards Nassau in what little wind there was. How desperate those poor people must have been to risk travelling in that way. We later learned from the Bahamian Customs that they had been apprehended and would most likely be returned to Haiti.

Late afternoon we passed through the scary Highbourne Cay Cut and were in the Exuma Sound for our overnight trip to Georgetown.

Dawn on Exuma Sound

Around dawn the fishing lines were out and we hooked a large mahi-mahi. It was then that we realised that our gaff, the large pole with a hook, used to land a big fish, was actually in Florida. Hurriedly we fashioned a makeshift one from the boat hook and a really large fishing hook. This proved not to be too successful but after about an hour we did succeed in landing the fish. Our next challenge was to fit it into the freezer, already fully loaded with supplies from the USA!

We arrived in Georgetown only about 50 hours after leaving Miami, that must be some kind of record for Anju. We anchored in our favourite spot near Monument Beach.

We spent the next few weeks relaxing with friends, walking on the beach, swimming in the sea and collecting shells. It was blissful.

Georgetown Sunset

Phil's prize find of the day.

Walking to the beach

Time for a swim.

Our membership of the OCC brought us some fun social times. Through fellow members Chris and Bill, guests on the impressive catamaran Cats Meow, we became friends with the owners LaVonne and Don. Later we met Iain and Fiona, who had covered an impressive amount of ocean on their 34 foot Sadler, Ruffian.

Henrik and Malla on Scorpio sailed into Georgetown, 9 years since we'd seen them last in Savannah. Since our last meeting they had completed their circumnavigation and were headed back to Finland.

We also became firm friends with Marilyn and Jeff on Sea Change II and Phil helped them get their solar panels connected up and working.

Chris, Bill, LaVonne and Don

Henrik and Malla

Anju and Scorpio

Phil with Jeff and Marilyn

Yet another crowded day at the beach!

The holiday had to end eventually and it was time to sail north again. We made a stop at Black Point and then Big Major's Spot so we could snorkel the wonderful Thunderball cave again.

Next stop was on a mooring at Warderick Wells National Park, where we caught up with our old buddy Andrew, a volunteer when we worked there and now the boss!

Headed to the Grocery Store

Anju on a mooring at Warderick Wells

At Shroud Cay we canoed through the mangrove channels across the centre of the island to the ocean side. Finally we'd got the tide right to make the trip!

Shroud Cay

Bad weather was forecast and we wanted to get to Nassau, to ride it out there, where we would have some protection from the west winds. Our trip back over the banks went great but just as we pulled into Nassau harbour, our propellor was fouled on something.

Slowly we managed to limp the quarter mile or so to the anchorage and as soon as we had the hook down, Phil donned his diving gear to check out the problem. The culprit was a large and very strong black plastic bag which had wrapped itself around the propellor and had to be cut free.

We spent a few days in Nassau, waiting for a window to head back to Florida.


Our trip back to Green Cove Springs was completed in record time again. A 36 hour passage took us from Nassau to West Palm Beach, where we cleared customs. After an overnight stop there, we started our journey north, making only a quick pit stop in Fort Pierce Inlet to pick up some diesel before rounding Cape Canaveral and reaching the St. John's River at midnight the next day.

Entrance to the inlet in the dark wasn't a problem but the tide was against us and progress was only at 3 knots. We were glad to reach Blount Island and anchor for the night before heading up river to Green Cove Springs the next morning with a favourable tide.

Back on a mooring in Green Cove Springs

Drinks with Troels and Wivi

We spent a week sprucing up Anju and wrapping her up safely for the summer ashore and then took up the invitation of our friends, the Fricks, to enjoy the comforts at their house, enjoy games night and park Harvey safely at their house for our trip to the UK.

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