After spending $350 on groceries and $100 on marine supplies, and spending some fun time on Peanut Island, we saw a break in the weather for December 23. The wind forecast was light NE.
We left at 3 pm. Not sure that was a good time to leave. Most people time it so you arrive on the Bahama Bank during daylight. This would put us there at 1 am. Hmmmm. But it was a gorgeous day and we decided to go for it. We left the busy Palm Beach Harbor and got out into the ocean with NE wind blowing 15-20. To correct for the northerly Gulf Stream current, we were pointing south-east even though our destination was more east. Imagine swimming across a river.
We were flying at 7-8 knots. Swells were 3 feet. So fun! But, I was scared that this would be too much wind/waves once in the Gulf Stream. We were making great time and were happy to have a beautiful sail away from the setting sun.. Not long after sunset, the full moon rose, the wind and waves calmed a bit and I relaxed. Looked like we would have moonlight when we got to the Bahamas. We ate a canned chicken chili and sweet potato/quinoa/arugula salad for dinner.
As the wind calmed, it also shifted to more easterly. We needed to charge the battery for the auto-pilot anyway, so we started the engine and motor-sailed for a bit. Soon we noticed the battery wasn’t charging. Our alternator wasn’t working. For the next 3 hours Bruce worked on it below while I sailed the boat without the engine, going a little further south and more slowly than wanted due to light easterly wind. But it was magical with the full moon and inky waters.
We made it to the Bahamian Bank at Memory Rock at 2 am. Never saw the lighted buoy, but we made it across the shallow (lowest depth was 7’) and kept motoring east to Mangrove Cay where we anchored in dead calm at about 6 am so Bruce could work on the alternator. I slept.
Turns out the alternator couldn’t be fixed. Bummer! Luckily we have solar panels that charge our battery during the daylight. Bruce gerry-rigged the alternator on the passage so we got a little charge. Battery power is needed most importantly to start our engine, refrigeration and electronic navigation and also for lights, auto-pilot etc. Can we find one in the Bahamas? Not here. Mangrove Cay is uninhabited and very remote. No cell service here. It’s Christmas Eve and we spent the day swimming, dinghying, and resting from the all-night journey.