Here is the story of our crossing to the Bhahamas and then full stop of life on Ronya with the quarantine and now 24 hour curfew.
While still waiting to cross the Gulf Stream in Key Largo, we finally got to go sail, this time with our friends Marijolein and Forest down to Key West on their Lagoon Catamaran. That was great fun!
On Monday, March 16, we finally set off on Ronya to cross the Gulfstream to the Bahamas. The forecast had predicted fair conditions of 2 to 3 foot waves with a 4 second period (the time between waves, the longer the better). And a light wind coming from due East, which meant we would have to go directly into the wind with no sailing, only motoring. We didn’t care, we were so gung ho to go! We left Port Largo Marina at 4:30 am and picked our way through the shallows to get past the reef line and into the Gulf Stream. We had plotted a 71 degree course, taking into account the 4 knots of the Gulf Stream, to get us to Bimini in the Bahamas. By sunrise, we were already in the Gulf Stream:
The forecast was not very accurate. We did have the wind on our nose, but it was much stronger than forecasted (up to 22 knots), so we ended up in 3 to 5 foot waves with a 2 second period, very rough when you are heading directly into it with no way to put a sail up for stabilization. The cats were NOT amused!
After a lumpy 13 hour crossing, we arrived near South Bimini with a very salty boat. We really wanted some rest, and found a nice anchorage off the beach which seemed to have pretty decent holding for our anchor (a rarity in Bimini from what we heard). We did not want to clear customs until we got to Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands, so we put up our quarantine flag and opened the mini Champagne I had saved for so long to watch the sunset and toast to our arrival in the Bahamas – finally!
The wind picked up again over night and cost us some well-deserved sleep, but we set out early in the morning to start our crossing of the Northern Bahama Banks. We actually got some sailing in with about 20 knot east winds, but coming around North Rock in Bimini we had the wind on our nose again, so we had to settle in for some more motoring :-(. Again, the wind was stronger than forecasted, and the crossing was much more uncomfortable than we had anticipated. At the end of the day, we were still on the Banks and the wind had settled down, so we decided to anchor on the Banks. We found a spot that was abot 19 feet deep and dropped the anchor. It was strange anchoring in a place in the open ocean where there is no land in sight!
Of course the wind picked up again over night, so we were trying to sleep while Ronya was rocking and rolling, and finally sunrise arrived and we set off on our last leg to Great Harbour Cay.
On the way we saw 11 cruise ships anchored out on the Banks as they had been stopped due to the Corona Virus, it was pretty spooky:
We arrived at Great Harbour Cay around noon on Wednesday March 18, and picked our way through the shallows at the Bullock Harbor entrance, as we had to go into the marina to clear customs. Once we had cleared us and the cats with no problems, we decided to stay in the marina for a night to catch up on some much needed rest and find out what the latest news was on travel restrictions due to the pandemic. Talking to some other boaters in the marina, there seemed to be quite a bit of uncertainty, so we decided to stay put for a few days for clarification. The marina has free bicycles, so we started exploring the village of Bullocks Harbour and the beaches, which are absolutely stunning!!!
We spent a lot of time exploring the beaches, swimming and snorkeling, and sharing nice dinners with our new friend Russ who is sailing solo on Frui Vita and happens to share some friends with us from the Keys.
And then the Prime Minister shut down the Bahamas. What now? With no travel allowed between the islands and a stay-at-home order, we were stuck. But – this is probably the best place in the world to be stuck in! We get to go on 90 minutes of outside exercise each day (paddleboarding and kayaking, walking and hiking), we can go to the (very well stocked) grocery store on the bicycles whenever we please, we have shore power so I am working on some more sewing projects, and we chat boat to boat with quite a few other nice sailors that have decided to stay as well. The internet is extremely slow, so it is hard to follow the news or even surf the web, but so far that is quite a nice break ;-).
And Rob and I are getting along great in our very small space living on the sailboat: