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Bahamas - going Solo

The day Emma and Brent departed these guys must have reckoned I need company - they camped next to my boat for the next few days.

Having had weeks off bumbing around with friends it was now time to switch on Abba full blast and catch up on some much need boat work. Impeller change, Oil, Air, and fuel filters changed, the washing done , films downloaded and a last swim in the marina pool it was now time to venture out solo.

Going Solo is a whole different experience and requires each action to be planed ahead, executing things in small chunks and playing to the wind, especially when the strong trade winds are .

Whether departing, putting up a sail, coming alongside or anchoring its challenging at times, fortunately Saorsa is a good partner. So slips ran and a perfectly light breeze morning I set sail for a week out around Eleuthera just me and my boat.

After an uneventful five hour sail I was at the very small entrance to Hatchet Hole, – a perfectly protected anchorage

with rather an intimidating entrance with no room for two way traffic. Inside safety at anchor I ventured ashore to explore some very spooky caves and then share a beer with some locals watching the sun go down.

I spent the week watching the depth in fine detail( never more than a few meters), working out how best to Sail safely solo, exploring some beautiful, if not windy anchorages , and whizzing through season 1&2 of Game of Thrones.

After years of dismissing the likelyhood I might Game of Thrones, the lure of Sean Bean and endless worshiping of John Snow and various other characters by Emma and Brent -Iam now hooked. With the help of Emmas and Brents maps and family trees Iam now well into it – no spoilers please!

Been on your own is actually rather sociable as when ever there are other sailors about they strike up conversation – especially when they see the NZ flag. However after five days

solo, exploring beaches and anchorages, along with a good 40 kt wind blowing at times it was good to be heading back to Nassau for my second US visa interview. (the first time I hadn’t provide enough information on previous visits).

This week I had also discovered that the raw water leak which had stated as a small drip was now more like a torrent – umm not sure this was withing my skill set to fix, so Nassau here we come for visa and engine fixing.

Heading into Nassau harbour provided a raft of challenges for solo sailing – navigating very shallow water, having to remove the dinghy to go in stern too and berthing in a busy harbour in a stiff 20kt breeze. Fortunately the lovely John and Josh from the marina were there to take my lines and it was a great confidence booster when the plan was executed with style. John & Josh were somewhat astonished I was a “women”on my own in a sailing a yacht who seemed to know what she was doing!

The visa interview was a bit nerve racking as at least three folk infront of me had their applications denied, but at my second attempt, the form passed muster and the official sounded genuinely interested in my reasons for visiting the USA, he wished me a safe journey and myVisa application was now approved😊phew....

Now to fix the leak – ideally a new raw water pump. After several enquirers I realised this is not happening in Nassau. I found the lovely Nick – a local mechanic who came along with two salvaged raw water pumps, neither of which improved the situation. Fortunately I had one spare shaft seal and he took the original pump apart, fitted this to the sea water side which seems to have sorted it for know. A new raw water pump is on the list for the USA.

My friend Maggie was due to arrive the following day – perfect timing. I had planned to tidy up the boat, make her bed up, have a last binge of Game of Thrones episodes with pasta a red wine. I then got a text – where are you? She had arrived a day early and was at the airport now! (Fortunately it was Maggie who got the date wrong and the intrepid traveler was here armed with tequila, and the most incredible stories of a lifetime of adventure.

I met Maggie on the pontoon finishing the Arc – armed with a beer and sporting a bandana it led to few beers in the bar that week and us hatching a plan over email to sail the east cost of the USA together. Maggie is an experienced sailor – Biscay in a force 9, Atlantic , Antigua race week to name but a few. Having had successful career she is able to turn her hand to anything, a lovely lady who has kindly has taken time out of her busy social life, hunting fishing, point to pointing, organsing various events and pub hunting to join me for a few months.

On a high tide and with fair winds forcast we slipped our lines at Nassau and set forth for Chub Bay in the lovely Berry Islands.

A gentle 50nm sail to a beautiful marina, beach and pool with its own airport where we could check out of the Bahamas. Owned by a Mr Geroge Bishop he has built a paradise in the middle of nowhere and we were lucky enough to spend our last night in the Bahamas in that small enclave of paradise.

Next stop the USA ......

Enough of crystal blue waters - Now for a real sail – 400miles – to Charelstone. USA.