This is the final post about our Bahamas 2017 rescue of the damaged Corsair F-31 trimaran.
As we were hunkered down out of the raging east winds on South Bimini island, we continued to pump out the boat every 4-5 hours. Our routines became tied to these intervals. Wake up, pump the boat out, go for a hike, pump the boat out, do laundry, pump the boat out before supper, etc. As long as we followed the schedule, the water never came above the floor anymore. I imagine that it must have been a little like having a newborn on a feeding schedule! The pump is manual with a steel pipe for a handle that goes into it. It worked like a charm but we had our fingers crossed that it didn’t break or fail in some way!
We tried to head to Florida early one morning in stiff but favourable south winds but the waves were still too high as a result of three days of high winds. We headed into the shallow waters off of the Shark Lab in Nixon’s Harbour and dropped anchor around 2:00pm over clear sand in about 6′ of water. We had read about difficulties holding on the Navionics app so we checked that the anchor was in deep….it was not so we reset it around 4:00pm. Much better. It was to be a settled night but one should err on the side of caution right?
Jim and Paul played with the toys (paddleboard and dinghy respectively) while waiting to see what the holding was like. I didn’t tell Jim that this is a favourite bay for hammerhead sharks at certain times of the year but he seemed wary of sharks…maybe because we had visited the Shark Lab earlier in the week and had just seen a large lemon shark a few miles out as we turned around and headed into the bay. As he was paddleboarding, Jim was very careful not to fall in!
Just to note, we were on a little bit of a schedule to get to Florida so Jim could race little Leftovers in the Everglades Challenge. Otherwise, we might have tried to explore the nearby wreck of the Sapona, an old rusting hulk partially submerged not too far from Nixon’s Harbour.
There were large patches of seagrass where we watched sea turtles feeding as we enjoyed sundowners mixed by bartender Jim, mindful of the dinner alarm to pump out the boat again. It was a lovely spot and a great place to end our stay in the Bahamas.
Finally the next day, we found that conditions were great for a sail to Florida and away we went….pumping out the boat and keeping a sharp eye out for ships in the busy shipping lanes of the Gulf Stream.
We turned our bow to the south-west and beat along as far as we could in a beautiful 12-15 knots of wind until the Gulf Stream grabbed us and drew us northward in about a 3 knot current.
As I recall, the winds shifted a little so we were able to reach northwestward across the Stream until it died down and we were forced to motor-sail for a while. Twice we diverted our course to pick up bunches of mylar balloons with jumbles of trailing string and ribbons. Shameful.
We neared the Florida coast and the wind came up again. We picked up speed and dodged a bunch of cruise ships leaving Port Everglades. We flew into Fort Lauderdale doing about 10 knots under sail nearing sunset. (My Mom watched us entering the inlet and captured us on the PTZ webcam!)
We tried to call US Customs but the 1-800 number wouldn’t work on our Canadian cell phones…even though I had a US plan on a US Sim card in mine!! We’d deal with that in the morning. Now, where to dock or anchor? I’d forgotten about anchoring in Lake Sylvia, just around the corner from the 17th Street Bridge. Silly me. So we tried to radio a couple of marinas. But there was no answer as we were coming in after hours. So I called one of the local stopping over places and a gal in their bar said to just tie up where we could and we could settle up in the morning. Sweet! We found a space on the dock and tried to wedge ourselves in between two large cruising catamarans. The crew on the cat ahead of us saw us coming in and kindly offered to raise their dinghy so our bowsprit would fit comfortably underneath it!! He put his late day beverage down and pushed a button. Up went the centre console dinghy and we squeezed into the gap. Our boat looked pretty shrimpy between those two beauties. My guess is that they were in the 50-60′ range. Once we were tied up, the crew from the cat ahead of us came over and asked where we had come from (since the yellow Q flag was flying from the flag halyard). We said we’d come over from Bimini today. He looked impressed and gave us kind of a “in that little boat?” look. Funny. We pumped out the boat again and prepared for dinner.
We’d made it to Florida and we were safe. We’d come 300+ nautical miles with a damaged boat. We hadn’t sunk and the pump was holding up so far. We all felt a sense of accomplishment. Jim and I were particularly glad that our friend Paul had agreed to join us. He’s a great sailor, a great fixit guy and pretty good with the barbecue too! Thanks Paul. What an adventure!