Going 60 miles to go 30

A week ago we tried to cross the Tongue of the Ocean to get to New Providence, Bahamas. That’s the island where the country’s capital is located–Nassau. The wind was on the nose (of course), and the chop was bad. The waves were 5 feet tall and only 4 seconds apart, so we were doing wheelies avery four seconds. Major stress.

So with only 16 miles to go, we turned around and ran to Morgan’s Bluff, Andros.

Over a week later the winds shifted enough to give us a wee tiny little window to get across to New Providence again. Being that we are dumb and want to be sailors and not motorboaters, we wanted to sail the whole way. What are we trying to prove to ourselves?!

Of course, the wind was blowing straight on our nose, as if was it created and sent directly at us from the very anchorage on New providence that we were trying to reach! The waves were about four feet tall with a three second period. It was basically the same scenario all over again!

Lala and I processed for a long while about our options. We considered turning back and trying again the next day. We considered running to the Berrys and then to the Abacos and skipping the Exumas all together. After considering the weather deeply and talking all options through, we decided to press on.

That meant that for the first time in our sailing careers we would beat to windward the entire way, while our friends in the two other sailboats making the crossing that day simply motor sailed their way across.

It’s a 30 mile course if you go in a straight line. We had to tack back and forth all day long and ended up travelling about 60 miles in a zig zag course to make those 30 miles to windward. It is serious work! They don’t call it “beating to windward” for nothing! We had to strach and claw every mile of the way there.

We did it though! It took us 14 hours to work our way all the way from Andros to New Providence. We sailed off the anchor in the morning before we set out, and we sailed to anchor that evening when we arrived at New Providence. We didn’t start the motor for a moment the entire trip. It was quite an accomplishment for us.

It was exhausting! Beating to windward means that the boat heels over 20 to 30 degrees and bounces up and over and down each wave for the entire trip. Just try standing up in the cockpit or cabin without hanging onto something, and you will end up falling over and hurting yourself. Cooking is nigh impossible. We just ate nuts and twigs all day.

It sure was a learning experience and a confidence builder though. We learned that we couldn’t get our boat to point closer to the wind than about 60 degrees. That’s not good windward performance. Too much weight in the back of the boat. Too much stuff on deck. We learned that we really can read the wind and waves now, and we intuitively know when to tack. And last but not least, we can claim bragging rights for making a passage like that without ever using the motor. It’s supposed to be a backup after all!

So one lesson at a time, we are becoming better sailors. Thank God for our angels looking after us! We are being guided to something here, and we have yet to find out what it is!

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One thought on “Going 60 miles to go 30

  1. Larry

    You are two very brave sailors! Your Dad is proud of you as you certainly know how to “Get Er Done.”


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