Wed., June 7, 2017
It was time to leave. After sitting in Harbor View, a working marina in Dania Beach, Fla. for 3+ weeks, while the commissioning and provisioning of Minnehaha was completed, and then sitting around for 3 days of non-stop rain and squalls to pass, it was time to ‘get out of dodge’ for our first real off shore cruise. Destination that day, Bimini, and ultimately to cruise around the Bahamas.
We had waited for almost 2.5 years for this day – one of us with unbounded excitement and the other with some anxiety (I’ll let you guess which one). Minnehaha is the very first 55-foot catamaran built by HH Catamarans in China. It was designed by Morelli and Melvin of Newport Beach, CA. We had collaborated through the entire design, build and shipping process.
With us on this historic day was Captain Rowland Bennett, a very experienced captain we had contracted to help us learn about this very complicated boat and train yours truly to be a sailor. He prefers to be called an ‘advisor’ versus captain but I prefer life saver and relationship counselor. Mark Womble, another very experienced sailor who was the sales agent that ‘motivated’ us to buy the boat, joined us as another welcome hand onboard.
I would love to say that the first day was a dream of sailing in fine winds and sunshine. Unfortunately, the predicted wind changed its mind and more rain and squalls cropped up along the way. The boat performed great, however. Mid- afternoon, we changed our mind about Bimini and decided to continue onto West End on Grand Bahama island, thinking we’d arrive about 3 hours later.
In short order, the seas turned very confused and turbulent and we spent the next 4 -5 hours getting bounced around… a lot. The miracle of ginger candy saved me from sea sickness. We finally arrived at the very, VERY dark West End marina at 9:15 pm and using handheld flashlights, we navigated past the rock sea walls and other boats (think 110’ yacht, for example) that were docked in the marina. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief to have the maiden voyage end. Through it all, the boat performed like a champ. In the light of morning we found that we had tied up right next to the customs office which made it easy to check into our first international point of entry.
Thurs., June 8 ,2017 West End Marina, Grand Bahama
Forecast was for very high winds and squalls today so we decided to spend the day in the marina. The day alternated between being partly sunny and squalls, with the hardest rain I’ve ever seen, and wind gusts at 45 mph. Good idea to stay close in. Luckily this is a pretty marina nestled next to a small resort.
We headed into the village to get some more provisions (fruit, etc.) and a SIM card for our modem to use throughout the Bahamas… a learning experience for the technologically challenged Deb and Doug (henceforth known as the 2Ds).
While it’s been nice not to be bombarded with news from Washington 24/7 we are certainly not completely insulated. When I can get Wi fi, I read the Strib and portions of NYT every morning before everyone gets up. Its MY time -quiet, a cup of coffee, dark and no talking – an introvert recharge. They had the James Comey testimony on the television in the yacht club on Fox News so we caught a good portion of that and then went back to focus on sailboat life.
We are finding the cruising community to be very friendly. We had people stop by to chat and ask to tour the boat. Someone who had sailed into the marina the day before us recognized and knew Mark. All in all a relaxing day. Forecast is calmer winds and no rain so we are planning to head out for Great Sale island. With a name like that, it seems promising indeed 😊.
West End Marina and resort
Beach at West End Marina
Fri. June 9, 2017
You may have noticed I am including the day of the week in my date and assumed it’s my compulsive tendencies. However, I am finding it useful as a way to keep track of what day of the week it is — yes, its reached the point where the days just blend into each other. Haven’t checked my blood pressure recently but I have to believe its lower.
Day 3 of sailing from West End to Great Sale island was glorious weatherwise with the sun, no squalls and generally light winds. The sail started a bit shockingly for me – I was finally put into the ‘pit’ (cock pit) to begin Deb’s day 1 sailing lesson on the new boat. I had managed to elude this prior for various reasons. As we raised the main sail, all the water that had accumulated during the previous day’s squalls, promptly drenched me. Let me tell you, that sail holds a lot, A LOT of water. Lesson learned today – wear rain coat in the pit after sitting in rain. Once underway, the boat performed wonderfully, at times exceeding windspeed (9 knots boat speed in 8 .5 knots wind).
Late morning, we approached a very, very shallow area where we had to drop the sails and motor for about 2-3 miles keeping a careful watch both on the instruments and visually for rocks and reefs. Lesson two for day: how to differentiate between shallow, very shallow and deep water by the color. On the other side of this sandbar, we discovered the wind was so light that we decided to continue motoring to make better time. But first we stopped the boat for a short, refreshing swim in the glorious clear water.
With no wind, the water was so calm that Rowland and I sat on the trampoline at the very front of the boat, feet dangling over the edge where we could see everything on the bottom. We did not see many fish, but at one time a 6 ft. nurse shark did glide right below us.
Later the wind picked up and we sailed the rest of the way, reaching Great Sale around 7 pm at which point we discovered the propane did not work on the boat. Instead of a nice dinner of risotto we had cold sandwiches, some alcohol and that cure for whatever ails you, ice cream. We had experienced several frustrating electronic glitches during the day and it was not a happy ending to an otherwise great sail. We agreed to just relax, enjoy the sunset and tackle the issues in the morning. (By ‘we’ I mean Doug and Rowland).