So you think our weather in the Bahamas is tropical bliss? I know I shouldn’t complain. After all, Erica in Colorado is testing out her new-to-her car in the fresh snow, Lindsay is adding a layer to her running/biking attire, Kenny and Jenna are rushing their post hole digging for the deck building project to get deep while the ground is still pliable, and our Maine friends are buttoning up summer homes to keep out the harsh winter elements. Many of our days are delightfully warm, with ocean water temps in the eighties. But sometimes we have to endure rugged weather too.
Even our new best friend, Chris Parker, a meteorologist extraordinaire, is saying things like “it’s not a matter of IF the weather will get nasty, it’s a matter of how nasty it will be and for how long”. We listen to his broadcasts at 6:30 every morning on the single side band radio to learn of the latest developments. He gives details for the Caribbean, the Bahamas and the east coast of the US. He chats with individual boaters and gives advice about when to leave port, what to expect, and how to navigate around lousy weather. There is no privacy on SSB radios, so we listen to all of these conversations, partly because we are nosey, and partly because we learn from each conversation. Lately, he has been telling people to stay put, to wait out this steady parade of gusty squally weather.
We watch sailboats leave an anchorage, venture out toward a new location, only to return within a half hour because it is too rough. The wind pipes up to 25 or 30 knots and the waves start to grow. Everyone has a different threshold for rough weather. We see it all: people with dogs or kids who can’t handle waves, old tattered boats which take on new leaks every time they get splashed, charterers who are only out here for the week and don’t really know how to operate their rented vessel, people who are injured or aging, and people who are big chickens.
Luckily Alembic is a very sound vessel. She was built for rough weather. Actually, she is somewhat of a slowpoke unless the wind hits 15 or 20 knots. Knock on wood, there are no leaks at all right now (we recently fixed two major ones) so we don’t mind getting soaked by sea water repeatedly. The water doesn’t make it below, and the next rain squall washes the decks. So Bill and I have been moving almost every day. Slowly creeping down the Exuma chain of islands to Georgetown, we are enjoying new islands, trying out our sailing skills in high winds, testing Alembic in these conditions, and discovering how easy it is to keep going. But we are not crossing oceans. We are traveling between 7 to 30 miles per day. We pick up our anchor and head out of a protected harbor, raise sails, listen to the winds howl in the rigging as if we were a helicopter ready for lift off, and settle in to a pace that is manageable. Knowing we have a new protected anchorage every few miles to duck into gives us tremendous peace of mind. And the sailing has been only on the Bahama Bank, which is shallow everywhere, making the wave build up minimal.
There are breaks in the squally weather, and we manage to snorkel, play with swimming pigs, go hiking, and SUP to explore new places. I actually think I will miss this stormy weather when it disappears. The coolness is welcome, the water tanks are full from rainwater which is much better than the slightly salty purchased Bahama water from a hose on a dock, and the sky patterns are incredible. We certainly live by the weather out here, and we are learning to appreciate all types.