Speeding through heaven

And true to form, the wind changed and LodeStar’s plans were altered. It is the morning after our third night at sea (we have been sailing for 70 hours so far). A gentle easterly wind of 6.5kts is pushing us towards the most southern part of the Bahamas, Dominican Republic to our port although there is no land in sight in any direction. As the initial departure date of the 10th May was upon us, we couldn’t justify to leave on that day. We had made the leap to leave Antigua on the understanding that we would be allowed entry into the USVIs but of course, there’s always that pang of uncertainty as you leave what you know or something changes on route and we would then have been in no mans land and unable to return to Antigua. And the idea had been to then quickly move up north whilst there were no Covid restrictions. But once we were checked in, and with the USVIs having so much to offer, there was now no rush to head north. So we pushed our departure to the next and last Salty Dawgs flotilla date of the 20th May. Still savoring each day in the United States Virgin Isles before we headed up to mainland America in one go. The intention prior to Covid-19 and the islands shutting down was to island hop through the Bahamas, meet up with my folks and then cross to mainland USA. So we aren’t far off original course but having to now ‘speed through heaven’ as a fellow Norweigian sailor friend put it, and miss out on the Bahamas. We also waited out the first named storm for the season, Arthur, that was causing unpleasant conditions off Florida.

It also fortuitously turned out that Alisara, friends we met in the Grenadines in January, were also now heading north with Salty Dawgs and they skidded in from Antigua two days before we departed together from Magens Bay, St Thomas. There was much catching up the night before we left about ‘the weeks that were and weren’t supposed to be’ since we had last seen them, even a beach haircut from Hermione for LodeStar’s three girls whilst we watched dozens of pelicans bomb dropping into the shallows. When I first witnessed this explosion, I thought the poor bird had made an embarrassing crash landing but it turns out that it is indeed a successful fishing strategy.

Our stowaway Brown Booby – so cute, caught a lift all night
Last time Andrew let’s a bird catch a ride!

After last swims and last touches with our Norwegian friends who even brought us proper coffee, dinghied across the bay in a thermos for the morning, we set off with Alisara and her crew (Douglas, Hermione, Arthur (8) and Alice (6)). JP from Vilja the Norweigian boat, even blew a conch shell horn on the bow announcing our departure. Very Moana-ish and special indeed.

Never get tired of sea sunsets

Our plan had been to sail through the Old Bahama channel past Cuba, keeping our 12nm distance from all countries except The Bahamas. With the facilitation of Salty Dawgs, we requested and were approved to traverse through Bahamian waters, and make a fuel stop without checking in. The rules were then relaxed in our favour to allow boats to anchor for the night considering that most boats going to mainland USA had not planned to do so in one go and would be short-handed and not even able to get crew in to assist, may have kids on board and for safety reasons, should be allowed to rest. The passage without stopping would be about 8-10 days which is a long time when it’s just two of you as well as trying to keep children stimulated and clean (sort of) and fed.

Sea school

We have actually even managed some school in the last few days and Bowds hasn’t felt ill. The sailing conditions have been ideal, she is our litmus test! We even had a mini maths Olympiad which earned them a little sweetie surprise at the end. But oh the pressure and panic to finish a maths test in 7 minutes. Needless to say, pause and resume on the timer resulted in both of them completing the task with few seconds to spare even if it was with sweaty top lips and racing hearts.

We have also caught 2 tuna, lost 2 Mahi Mahi, released one barracuda (not safe to eat anymore this far north) so it’s tuna on the menu.

One comment

  1. Friends! Thinking of you and wondering how you’ve been, and how you are? The girls have grown noticeably and it looks like Erin has new front teeth! Fresh air, open views, sunsets and freedom, what an amazing journey – can’t wait to hear ALL about it when you’re back. Sending love and hugs from Jozi to you all xxx Rob and Jax


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