Cruising to the Bahamas: Day 2

Before dawn, I had the anchor up and we were once again motor sailing along in the light breeze. The winds were a little more prominent today, and we were able to make the last bit of the journey to the bridge by 5pm. At that time, the tide was rushing out, and the current was rather strong as we came up on the bridge.

The current listed on the chart plotter was 2 knots at that moment, and we were indeed moving along at 2 knots with no wind in our sails.

Then we came across a fast moving river filled with trash, muck, and debris. When we entered that river, it felt like we were riding down white water rapids! Wisdom quickly sped up to 5 knots and we were blown out of the bay with fury! Instead of trying to steer us out, I used all the power we had in the motor to push us side to side and avoid the bridge abutments.

That was honestly the most stressful moment of this trip, watching a bridge piling approach your beam at 5 knots while you frantically full throttle yourself sideways and you see the shore in front of your bow slipping sideways past your view. It felt like we had no control and it planted a very deep respect for narrow waterways with high currents. I used to always try to time our journeys with peak tidal flow, but these have always been in wide open rivers with currents around 1 knot. After encountering that little bonus river in the water, I will be sure to investigate any new passages before attempting them with a strong current. I feel it would even be best to attempt these narrow passages at slack tide when the water is still and you can move through it unaffected.

As soon as we exited the bridge, we were greeted by a very large pod of dolphins who appeared to be feeding on little fish that had been sucked out of the bay with the powerful current. They saw us sailing along and soon followed us, jumping out of the water ever closer as they came by to investigate what we were doing and where we were going.

The sun began to set and we were still in the mouth of the bay. The winds were blowing us into the bay and we had spent the entire afternoon tacking against the winds in the narrow areas that are not channels.

As the sun became low, the temperature also began to drop and we decided that it would be best if we just anchored again, in the ocean!

We found a shoal between the channels that was not a restricted area and dropped the hook on a shallow portion of it. 13 feet of water at low tide, so I let out 200 feet of chain to make certain that we would not drag in the night.

We set the proximity alarm on our AIS to 0.5nm, trying to keep false alarms from waking us as we tried to sleep, but to no avail. It seemed that every ship entering or exiting the bay was on course for us before they turned to go through the channel. The alarm would sound multiple times an hour, and each time I would check  it, just in case it was actually a collision in the making.

To add to the misery, the swell and wakes from the traffic made the anchorage unbearable as the boat was constantly rolling around. If you find yourself in a situation where it is not safe to continue at your current rate, anchoring is an option, but it really should be your last option.