Nassau, Bahamas - Green Cove Springs, Florida, USA

6th - 15th May 2008

As soon as the tide turned to flow in the direction we were headed, we hauled anchor and left Nassau harbour.    Needless to say we began fishing immediately, mindful of previous success in the Tongue of the Ocean, the deep stretch of water between Nassau and the Great Bahama Bank.   

Just before lunch the reels began to whirr as we passed by a large patch of floating weed .    We had hits on both rods at once, causing much chaos aboard!    The "one that got away" was big, it must have been, to snap our line and steal our ballyhoo bait.     The other rod hadn't had the brake set properly, so the snagged fish managed to pull most of the line out of the reel in his attempt to flee before we got things under control!    It took a very, very, very long time to fight the fish, winding the all line in again before we managed to land our catch, another good sized mahi for our freezer.    Of course, we had to sample a fillet for lunch, to check the quality first, the tastiest fish burgers we ever ate!

The battle continues

For once we passed through the scary narrow channel onto the Great Bahama Bank in daylight.    The depths decreased from beyond the range of our depth sounder to around four metres in only a few hundred feet.    Every other time we'd passed it had been in the dark of night and the cause of much anxiety aboard.   In daylight the stretch of water looked deceptively welcoming, despite invisible, shallow, submerged reefs each side of the channel.    We were able to visually check for the lights which always appear on our chart but never seem to really exist and confirmed that the lights, indeed, didn't really exist.    Of course things may have changed by our next visit to the Bahamas but it was somewhat unlikely.    

The water was so still that we decided to take a new option, anchoring overnight on the bank.     We carried out motoring until around 10 pm and then decided it was time to stop for the night.    Now, where to stop and anchor in the middle of the ocean........Finally we picked a spot near a shoal in the hopes that any passing big ships would be avoiding the shoal and hence miss us too, even if nobody was on watch!     It certainly was pretty surreal stopping in the middle of the ocean, dropping the hook in 4 metres of water, putting on the anchor light and going to bed.    It would have made the Atlantic Ocean crossings much less tiring if we could have done that every night!

Next morning we rose early and ventured outside to see where we were, only to discover that we were definitely anchored in the middle of nowhere, not a speck of land in sight.    Luckily the conditions had stayed calm overnight and we'd slept well. 

We hadn't been on the move long, in sunny and calm conditions, when we both noticed something really bad on the horizon.  A waterspout had appeared from a lone black rain cloud and seemed to be coming our way.    In was pretty unbelievable in such benign conditions and we immediately switched on the radar for confirmation that our eyes weren't deceiving us.    We tracked the waterspout to less than 2 miles away and were relieved to see the gap between us finally start to increase, it seemed we would be lucky.

We hoped we were imagining it, but...... seemed the radar was imagining it too!

With the excitement over so early in the day, we plodded on across the bank, reaching the furthest outpost of the Bahamas, Great Isaac Light, by mid afternoon.   Back in deep water, we started our search for the promised wind and the Gulf Stream current.

Before the wind materialised, we found the current and another Mahi for our freezer.    Finally we began sailing, enjoying a peaceful night.

Next morning Phil checked in with Chris Parker, our weather router, by SSB radio.   We were concerned about a low pressure due to come off the Carolinas which was expected to generate strong southerly winds.    This would be a good direction but we wanted to check just how strong a wind we could expect.   Chris was expecting around 18 knots in our area, which would be fine.

Great Isaac Light

By late afternoon Phil was woken during Christine's watch as the wind began to reach a sustained 25 - 30 knots, it was time to reef the mainsail.    Once we'd reefed and things aboard were calmer, we enjoyed the company of around a dozen dolphins.    They seemed to enjoy surfing our bow wave as the sea state began to increase, entertaining us with jumps and backflips.    It was a magical moment.

By dinner time we were most definitely in non-glamourous dinner-in-a-bowl mode.    Dinner held tight in one hand, holding on to the boat with the other, snatching a mouthful of food between big waves.    Sleep that night wasn't much more comfortable!

Whatever happens don't lose your curry!


By daylight, the wind was definitely taking on a westerly component as we'd feared.  Luckily we made it into the St. Johns River before it really settled in the west and picked up some more.    Now we had the joyous prospect of motoring into 30+ knots of west wind up the river which was mainly a westerly direction.     As we entered the river we contacted our friends at Homeland Security to report our arrival and give our ETA at Jacksonville, which was understandably vague as we were unsure of the effect of 30 knots on the nose against the tide for the twenty odd mile trip.    With the help of the strong current we did better than expected, maintaining around 5 knots against the strong wind.    We were through the Main Street Lift Bridge and safely tied up at the Landing by 2 pm, around an hour earlier than we'd predicted.    

We called Homeland Security to let them know and were told to wait aboard as we were to be boarded by the authorities.     We sat and waited expectantly and sure enough at around 3 pm, we thought we were experiencing a solar eclipse as a wall of black-uniformed CBP officials towered above Anju on the quayside.    We feared the worst type of checking in experience but were pleasantly surprised to undergo one of the better check-ins of our career.    Matters were speeded up somewhat by the motion of Anju, rocking and rolling on the dock in the strong wind over tide conditions, causing a degree of seasickness among our inspectors.   Even our herb garden was cleared by the Department of Agriculture to re-enter the country its origin.  

Our next step was to visit the Port Authority to collect our cruising permit.    This meant locating a taxi willing to visit the department of Homeland Security, which proved much easier on this occasion than the last!    By the end of the afternoon we were enjoying a well-earned ice-cream on the back deck, whilst watching the world go by on Jacksonville's busy waterfront.    

We didn't intend to beat our way up the river against the strong south-westerly winds, so were able to benefit from the hospitality of Jacksonville's free dockage for the whole weekend and enjoy some of the festivities laid on for the Players Golf Tournament.

We'd arrived in a mini-heatwave, the hottest weather of the year so far.  By the following afternoon, we decided a cultural excursion to visit to the nearby Cummer Art Gallery and Gardens would be essential and not only for the purposes of enjoying their air conditioning for a while.    The Gallery proved to be particularly enjoyable, with all kinds of art represented in their collection.    Great efforts were also being made to introduce children to art and needless to say the crew of Anju enjoyed the juvenile section of the gallery most of all!

Video art Anju style

Cummer Gallery Gardens

Jacksonville - 10 points for spotting Anju

Monday afternoon the tide was right, the wind finally came more northerly and we were on our way to Green Cove Springs, to prepare Anju for her summer holidays in storage.    Before casting off from The Landing, we made sure we would be in luck with our favourite railroad bridge.   We cunningly cast off just after a train passed, as soon as the bridge began to open, just to be sure.

We anchored off Green Cove Springs Marina for a couple of days, whilst making preparations, taking down sails to stow out of the wind and sun and clearing the decks.    

During this process, we managed to get to the dentist to see about the Captain's toothache, which resulted in immediate extraction of the offending tooth.    As the Captain recovered with the help of antibiotics and painkillers, the First Mate ferried ashore everything we'd need to move into the camper, when Anju was hauled.   

Harvey-the-RV was retrieved from the storage area, starting first time.    Anju was hauled out, chocked up for the summer and covered with sun shading.    It was time to make preparations for some land exploration!
Return to homepage     Return to 2008 index