06 April 2018

Arrived in Fox Town, Bahamas 🇧🇸

I'm taking advantage of the first semi-usable Internet we've had since leaving Lake Worth to send this update.

We had a pretty good crossing Saturday night, arriving on Little Bahama Bank Sunday morning, near Memory Rock. We then spent the day sailing to our first anchorage near Mangrove Cay (pronounced 'key'), flying our yellow quarantine flag. It felt good to lower the anchor, cook a warm meal, and get a good night's sleep.

Monday, we headed towards Grand Cay, the closest Island with a customs office, so that we could officially check in to the Bahamas. We were forbidden to land anywhere until we had done so. However, since it was 35 miles away, we decided to stop for the night at Great Sale Cay, where we had a sky filled with stars.

We arrived at Grand Cay Tuesday morning, but the harbor was too shallow for the long legged Petronella, so we anchored outside and I took our dingy to the town fishing dock too look for the customs officer. I found him on the road to his office. He was on his way home to have lunch, so I hopped in his golf cart and we did the paperwork in his kitchen.

Then it was back to Petronella. Our anchorage wasn't safe enough for an overnight, being so near, and so exposed to the Atlantic, so we lifted the anchor and headed back to Great Sale Cay.

Wednesday we sailed to Strangers Cay, hoping to spend a few quiet days on this isolated island with several nice beaches. We arrived in the afternoon, but decided to put off a shore trip until the next day. The evening was very quiet, just as the forecast predicted, and that night the Milky Way was as bright and clear as I've ever seen it. We looked for satellites and shooting stars, but Helena was the only one lucky enough to see one.

I got up early on Thursday to make coffee and check the weather. The National Weather Service was still predicting a fine, calm day, but Chris Parker — a marine weather specialist that we subscribe to — was predicting squalls and high winds in our part of the Bahamas. There was barely a breeze, so I scoffed at Chris's prediction, until I happened to glance out the companionway and saw the low line of black clouds on the northern horizon. They were headed our way.

If I'd been smart I would have immediately got the anchor up and headed out of our narrow anchorage, but I delayed, hoping the squall would miss us. It didn't, and so we had to get the anchor up in 20 knot wind — never a fun exercise. However, we managed it and were happy to get into the deeper, open water of the bank.

Then the question was, where to go next? With my new-found respect for Chris Parker, I studied his forecast for the rest of the week. The wind would gradually veer from north to east to south over the next few days, so we needed an anchorage with protection from all those directions. There was only one likely destination we could reach — Fox Town on the north coast of Little Abaco Island. The wind was high but we could just sail close-hauled, with our jib and mizzen sails set. A fantastic sail.

We arrived at Fox Town just as the wind died down, making it easy to motor into the small harbor, pick a spot to anchor, and get settled in for the night. Our Canadian neighbors, on the yacht "R Liberty", paid us a visit in their dinghy. We invited them aboard for a chat. They had been in the Bahamas all winter, so were able to tell us all the best places to stop for groceries, fuel, beaches, etc.

We hope to get ashore in Fox Town today, just to stretch our legs and have a meal at one of the local restaurants. Tomorrow the forecast is for SW winds which should be favorable for carrying us to our next stop, where ever that may be.

Hope you are all well. We have email for the day, so let us know how you are doing.

Sorry to Ken and Nick for abandoning chess games!

-- John

Sent from my iPad, so may be a bit brief.

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