After our driving tour of Eleuthera we turned our thoughts towards going back to the states. We had been in the Bahamas for almost four months, and we were increasingly fantasizing about Publix and other conveniences. This had been the longest stay of our three trips, and we agreed that next time we would keep it to three months. That seems to be about when we are ready for a change of scenery. The beaches and the water are gorgeous, but when it starts to feel like just another beach it’s time to go.
We wanted to cross back to the U.S. from the Abacos so we picked the best day to make the 55 nautical mile trip over from Eleuthera. Of course “best day” was relative. We were looking at a solid week of sloppy, rolly, crappy conditions so we chose the day that appeared to be the least sloppy, rolly, and crappy. We prefer not to have long days in those conditions, but at least if we know that’s how it’s going to be we can be mentally prepared for it. The forecast didn’t disappoint, but we sucked it up and anchored by Lynard Cay in the southern Abacos at the end of a long day.
We had already decided that we would take our first opportunity to go through the Whale passage so we could be in a good position to cross back to the U.S. from the northern Abacos when a weather window presented itself. That’s how we found ourselves raising the anchor at sunrise the next morning and enjoying a tremendously fantastic sail from Lynard to our favorite spot just north of Green Turtle. This winter in the Bahamas has definitely featured the most sailing – and the best sailing – that we’ve experienced of our three trips.
Ten days later after the passage of another cold front, we had our window to cross. It was going to be a motor-fest but we were only going to Fort Pierce so it didn’t matter. Neither one of us felt like doing a multi-night passage, and Green Turtle to Fort Pierce at 177 nautical miles was only one overnight so we set up the Pelagic autopilot and headed out.
What followed was a mostly uneventful passage with the autopilot steering the whole way. Previously we had named the Pelagic “Auto Bob” (our Monitor is named “Bob” after my dad), but Auto Bob was basically a placeholder name until we found something that felt right. Well, this was the longest consecutive time we had used the Pelagic and we were thrilled. It makes SUCH a difference motoring when you don’t have to hand steer. Inspiration hit and the Pelagic’s official name is now “Roberto il Macchina” – “Machine Bob” in Italian. Don’t ask why – it seemed fitting. Yes, we are a bit odd.
We were literally five minutes from entering the Fort Pierce inlet when the passage changed from uneventful to “mostly” uneventful upon the engine stopping. Had it occurred five minutes later, with no wind and a cross-current pushing us towards the northern jetty, it could have been a disaster. As it was, the experience we’ve gained since cutting the dock lines almost three years ago displayed itself with our reaction to the sudden quiet. Instead of saying “OH, SHIT!!” it was, “Awww, shit.”
I proceeded to ghost us along in the very light winds, tacking back and forth by the inlet while Jeff got to work changing the fuel filter. Our initial thought was dirty fuel, but Jeff said later that he thought we sucked up some air because we were getting low on fuel and we were rolling around. The filter was only half full of fuel and we didn’t have any more trouble after that, so he’s likely right on that one.
About an hour later the engine was fired up again and we were motoring through the inlet. We dropped the anchor, checked back into the U.S. with the ROAM app, and toasted each other with celebratory Pegu Club cocktails. Our third winter in the Bahamas was in the books.