Wednesday, February 18, 2014
Mystique's Caicos to Great Exuma Passage
Days 4 & 5 / Legs 4 & 5:
Landrail, Crooked Island to Long Island to Ragged Island, Bahamas - 61 miles
22 degrees 44.20 N, 73 degrees 53.20' W
Winds: Easterly 25-30 knots
4-6 foot seas
On Tuesday, we sailed northwest under a spotted cloudy sky at a steady 6.5 - 7.2 knot clip, and with "Auto" keeping Mystique on course, Lynne and I finished chapters 7-12 from 12 Years a Slave. Our only real interaction was Mystique's cross perpendicular course with a smoking, chugging 50' +/- fishing trawler about half-way across the Crooked Passage.
The single highlight was our destination - a pristine, turquoise 2-3 mile leeward shore anchorage at Long Island's South Point. It was so picturesque, we marveled at its startling colors and panoramic view. An anchored Canadian sloop which we anchored near by, and in the distance near the shore was what appeared to be a ship wrecked Haitian fishing vessel punctuated our bay view.
Sighting South Point, Long Island
Entering South Point's protective coral head cove
Mystique at anchor facing eastward towards Long Island coast and a 20-knot breeze.
At 3:00 am a half mile offshore from Long Cay's South Point on a moonlit Wednesday morning, I loosened the main sheet and crept forward to the mast to raise Mystique's mainsail while my catamaran was still at anchor. As soon as the sail's leech had eluded the lazy jack lines, her main was up to the second reef points and made secure. With the wind blowing 15 knots in the lee of the shore, it was a certainty the gusts would be stronger once Mystique had departed the protection of the windward shore. So setting the second reef in the main would prove fortuitous.
I immediately returned to the helm and switched on the two engines so I could then return to the bow to raise the anchor. Not wanting to wake Lynne or use her assistance, I had made sure the auto pilot (aka "Auto") was set to the wind's direction, gave both throttles some forward thrust and quickly scooted up foredeck to the windlass.
The windlass lifted the anchor off the bottom within a minute's time and I soon had it and secured when I then noticed in the early morning dark that the main sheet had loosened itself from the winch and a couple of pulleys. I thought best to retrieve the line and relead it immediately while there was little wind. So I asked Lynne to steer for a few moments while I retread the line and secured it to the winch. Our Raymarine GPS Chartplotter glowed in the dark and the anchor light of a 30' cruising sloop some 30 yards to port, gave us some reference points as I turned Mystique away downwind towards our southwestern destination -the Ragged Islands.
With the wind piping up close to 25 knots by sunrise, Mystique was soon making 7.5 knots across the bottom. Not long after daybreak, a line squall enveloped us and the wind stoked to 32 knots; the downpour considerably flattened the seas and consequently increased Mystique's speed to 9.2 knots. My double-reefing proved helpful as I had little sail trim and the boat responded like a cat scurrying after a rat. The surge ended within 10 minutes when the wind settled back down to 25 knots.
A rainbow appears soon after the squall hits.
The wind decreases and Mystique slows to 5 knots.
Mystique's chartplotter shows its position about 2/3 of the way to Little Ragged Island.
First views of Little Ragged after almost 62 miles and 9 hours sailing.
We had a little 60-mile run-in with the sea. We ran close to Little Ragged, a mile away, and in anchoring close discovered an uncomfortable place to drop an anchor. So we ran with our run until we ran a ways from it.