Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bahamas Follow Up

Vero Beach Panera

So. We're in Vero Beach again, and liking it. We are rafted up with the Westsail Zaftra with our friends Don and Gloria, and with Eagles Wings with our friends Walt and Pat who we met in the Bahamas. In addition, so far we bumped in to Reg and Teri on Blue Topaz, and Stephan and Lori on Twin Spirits. It's like old home week here for us.

I have a number of things to order and receive by mail, so we'll be stuck here for a few weeks, but I promise; we won't stay here for months this time (I think:)

I blogged about this scandalous piece of cruiser's gossip before, but now I learned some new details so I'll repeat the story. About 10 days ago we were anchored in White Sound on Green Turtle Cay. A number of other boats anchored in there were waiting to pass through The Whale. The Whale is a short passage that takes you part way out to sea in one of the cuts between barrier islands. Shallow waters prevent sailboats from using any other route between Green Turtle and the rest of the Abacos.

These barrier islands face the open Atlantic Ocean with no additional obstacles between here and Europe and Africa. When big Atlantic Swells come rolling in from the east and then meet the barrier reefs, and especially the gaps or cuts between reefs, they become very violent. Couple that with the action of wind and of the strong tidal ebb and flows, and it makes for a very dangerous combination of elements. Bahamians call it The Rage. On that day, everybody who listened to VHF radio had to know that The Rage was on. Friends told us that on that day they went to the southern tip of Green Turtle Cay were they could look out over The Whale. They said that there was so much white spray in the air, that it just looked like a big white cloud hanging over the passage.

On that day, we saw a big, beautiful 45 foot charter catamaran leave White Sound. On board was three couples on vacation, plus a paid professional captain. That vessel very foolishly tried to go through The Whale ignoring The Rage. A few hours later, the boat returned. We heard that the boat had been “trashed.” Yesterday, I also learned the new fact, that all six vacationers were injured and are in the hospital.

My oh my, how could a professional captain have made such a blunder? I expect that the consequences for that captain and for the charter company will be very severe.

More Bahamas follow up. We learned that the peak season in the Bahamas is actually May and June. In those months, the weather is so placid that even the Gulf Stream is tamed and anybody with a 14 foot or larger motor boat can cross over to the Bahamas from Florida. They reportedly do so by the thousands. In addition to all the other appeals, The Bahamas are also about 10 degrees cooler than Florida in the summer and much more comfortable.

Still more about the Bahamas. We learned that a big fraction of the cruising community that goes to the Bahamas in winter, live a life style that resembles that in Vero Beach or Marathon. In Marsh Harbor, Abacos, members of the Royal Marsh Harbor Yacht Club have negotiated a rate of $0.60/foot for a slip if you pay in advance for 90 days or more. That's very cheap. Tarwathie could stay at a slip there for only $576/month. Down in Georgetown, Exumas, there is another cruisers culture that locks people in to staying in one place for the whole winter season.

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