Lately we have been sailing more than we expected. We had to leave the BVI earlier than we wished, we barely touched the USVI, we only got a glimpse of Puerto Rico ( I loved San Juan, nicest people in the caribbean), made two quick stops in Turks&Caicos and now we are finally chilling in Georgetown, Bahamas. Why all the rush? We had to meet family in Bahamas and I miscalculated distances in my head. Our life turns around the weather, so whenever we need to sail offshore to be somewhere on a fixed date, we will take the first available weather window as you never know when the next one will come. The last thing you want to do is sail on a schedule, that is sailing under weather conditions you would not normally sail, only to reach your destination on time to meet some friends, family or catch a flight, etc.. So we chose to rush through some places in order to get to our destination early and safe, rather than seeing more but taking chances with the weather.
After picking up Samir ( Karina’s brother) and Claire ( Samir’s fiance) in Mayaguana, we left straight away towards the Exumas, as the weather was favorable and the forecast for the following days was not fun. Following a pretty fast night passage under parasailor ( more on this sail later), we anchored in the lee of Long Island at South End, and I went straight to bed. In the afternoon, as I rose from siesta I noticed that a monohull that I had seen that morning far away in the bay seemed to have run aground. Samir and I took the dinghy to check it out. The boat Imagine 2010 a mono hull from Quebec, Canada was heeling over 40 degrees, the keel buried in the sand. The situation did not seem dangerous at the time, Gilles and Danielle (owners) and Benoit were chatting casually when we arrived. As they were trying to anchor closer to shore, a wave lift them up and forward, leaving them stuck on the sand. Given that it was slack tide the situation would you just get worst for the next hours, so they were patiently waiting for high tide. Just in case, we tried to get them out with our dinghy, by pulling from the main sail hail yard in order to increase the heeling of the boat so that the keel would come out allowing the boat to slide forward. After several failed attempts, we decided to wait for the tide. High tide was around 21:00, but sunset was around 19:00, so close to sunset we went to help them again. The situation had deteriorated, the swell had increased producing breaking waves that had pushed the boat further in as the tide increased. For the next hours we tried unsuccessfully to move the boat. All we could achieve in the end was to point the bows to the breaking waves and reset the anchors, hoping to prevent the boat from moving closer to the beach. Around 22:00, I brought Imagine crew aboard Kazaio. We all had a nice dinner and chat, while trying to forget that Imagine was being pounded by the waves. It was pitch dark, the waves were increasing, so there was nothing we could do at that time but rest. At sunset, the first glimpse of Imagine was pretty discouraging, the boat was now on the beach!
We had decided to try to rescue Imagine pulling with Kazaio, while using our dinghy to heel the boat. But given how close Imagine was to the shore, the job seemed pretty complicated. None thought we could pull it off the beach at that stage, yet we tried. I pulled out all of our anchorage lines (very flexible and able to absorb shocks) and used the spliced anchor line that Rolf had made me for the Med mooring as a bridle. Luckily, we had reinforced our aft cleats in the Las Palmas in preparation for the ARC, and my cleats are rock solid. As catamaran have less draft than regular mono hulls I was able to come close to shore but it still seemed too far.
We ended up with over 150m of line and chain, all tied up with bow ties. As soon as we started to pull, surprisingly Imagine moved forward effortlessly. I was expecting cleats to rip or ropes to break, but for once all went fine and Imagine was upright and motoring on its own in a few minutes.
Gladly Imagine had no real damage, only a mess to organize and clean!
As Imagine was fine and at anchor we said good bye to our new friends and headed North towards Georgetown, Exuma. A few days later we arrived in Georgetown, also commonly known as Chicken Harbour, as this is one of the most southern spots where North American cruisers can arrive without having to make overnight/off shore passages. The spot is popular with live aboard sailors like us and many come here religiously every year to escape the cold winter months. At the peak of the season, 300 to 400 boats are anchored throughout Elizabeth Harbour. We thought we would only spend a few days to drop Samir and Claire and pick-up Rolf and Kim, but we have ended up staying over two weeks. We met several cruising families, the kids are having a blast and the mamas get a chance to have girls night out on the beach ( I will let Karina elaborate on that). So having once again a social life for a while feels great!!