Diary excerpts – from Saint Martin to the Bahamas and on to Miami Part 1.

April 17 greeted us with a gorgeous, clear morning. We got up early to avoid standing in line at the pharmacy where we were going to have our antigen tests done later on. Though it’s not exactly our strong suit, we managed to get ready within a reasonable amount of time. At the pharmacy we had to wait a bit, which bored the girls after a while, so we utilized the time and called their friends  back home, whom they hadn’t spoken to in a while. The girls were not too anxious about taking the test as they had managed to avoid the long stick stuck in your throat. A well performed nose blow served the purpose, which they were grateful for. Then a half hour stroll till the paperwork got done.  We said good bye to our good friends living on the island. Soon after we got the documents, had a pitstop to pick up the gas tank then back onto the boat. Up with the anchor and a last wave to our Serbian friends back from Las Palmas. They are going to sail back to the Mediterranean at the end of the season.

The first hour is always rather tense: to make sure that we have arranged everything, send all the important emails and messages as long as we still have Internet; to have a final look at the weather report and type in the correct route into the navigation system. In order to save fuel, we hoist the sails as soon as possible. By the time we look back, Marigot is only a distant memory on the horizon.

In two or three hours we can finally exhale as the wind blows away the tension.  This peaceful, unmatchable feeling returns when we unfurl the sails, surrounded by nothing but the ocean. It’s quiet, you can only hear the murmur of the wind and the water. We are off to new frontiers.

The girls venture aboveboard from their den, we talk about the trip, how long it will last, how many days till we see land again. Approaching the Dominican Republic we make a prompt decision – we have such good wind, and enough supplies, that we are going to sail on to the Bahamas.  This proved to be the right choice, a very comfortable and joyful sailing ensued.

April 22. Yesterday evening we crossed into the territory of Turk and Caicos. We felt we deserved a bit of a break after four days of sailing. We scouted a protected bay. This was the first time for me to experience what it’s like to be standing on the front of the boat scanning the wavy water to avoid running onto coralheads. Pretty exhausting, even though I had to hang onto the line only for an hour. The strongest sunscreen could not stop my skin from burning, even hours afterwards. The bay was mesmerizing: amazing shades of blue and a straight snowwhite sandy beach with green vegetation in the background letting through the last rays of the sundown.  It was totally deserted, we were the only boat at anchor there. On the shore we could spot the wreck of a motorboat. Who knows how long it’s been there, must have been blown out there by a storm.
We went to bed early. Next morning the loud squawking of birds woke us up. Hundreds of them were circling around hunting for food, quarelling with each other … an exciting sight. The white sandy beach was just as beautiful in the morning. We took a quick dip then hoisted the anchor and set out for Long Island.

Yesterday we were hoping to spot some whales as this is the birthing place for long-finned pilot whales. This is where they give birth and nurse their offspring. They stay here between January and March-April, then swim north with their offspring.  We were out of luck, must have just missed them.

Now we are sailing at 7 knots in wonderful 18 knot sidewind at 118 degrees. It’s impossible to do anything down in the cabins, everything would fall off at this angle, but in a couple of hours we are changing tack. Then with a backwind we can tidy up a bit downstairs.

April 23. During the night the wind picked up and the waves got bigger. The direction of the wind shifted slightly, and there was an hour when dark clouds started gathering promising a storm. Luckily nothing came of it, they vanished and the sky cleared out. The moon was shining with such brightness througout the night you could mistake it for daylight. It started out above our mast as darkness was setting in then slowly descended donning a redish-orangy color. It wasn’t such a joyride as throughout the day. But then the wind probably shifted a bit and  the waves got milder as we reached the protective backwaters of an island ahead of us. Our speed was much faster than the wind would predict. The sails were not jittering as much because the boat was gliding smoothly up and down the waves. This is our kind of weather.

At dawn, between 3 and 4, Domi and I wrote and sent off tons of letters. We prepared stories and posts for our Instagram and Facebook pages.

April 24.  Saturday afternoon we arrived in George Town. Offices were closed.  It’s the airport where you can get things done at the weekend. Domi took a cab there. Once the last passenger of the last plane had left the airport, it was Domi’s turn to register us. In the meantime it got dark on the boat, we did not have Internet or phone service, couldn’t get in touch with him. It had already been four hours since he left and my imagination started playing tricks on me: he might have gotten knocked down, mugged … and I am here with the girls alone on the boat, without a dinghy, in a foreign land.

Finally he showed up around 7.30 PM exhausted from the hardship of the day. None of his credit cards had worked, there was no Internet, the shops where you can buy a SIM card for your phone would only open on Monday. In the end they let him use the WIFI system of the borderguards. He had to fill in loads of forms. They didn’t accept our COVID test as it was 7 days old and not 5. We had the test done right before we left and it took us 7 days to get here. They wanted to talk us into sailing back in order to get another test done. It took a great effort to make them understand why this would not make a difference. The local head of the guards eventually called around and managed to have the health authorities issue us the permit. At long last, we and the Teatime were officially all admitted to the Bahamas!

April 29.
We started sailing out of the lagoon and I had to lean out from the bow of the boat again to scan the seabed for coralheads to avoid running aground. Every five minutes I spotted a giant starfish down below in the crystal clear water, which by the way they call gin-clear around here.  It was rather exciting with our 2.6 meter draught and occasional water depth of only 2.1 meters.  Thanks to the tide we made it out in one piece. Domi was navigating, looking at three different maps while listening to my status report on the walkie-talkie at the same time.

One of my first experiences of the Bahamas besides the unimaginable blueness of the water were the blue clouds. The light blue of the water reflects back in the clouds and paints them this color. Exactly the way I used to draw them in nursery school as a child. Only I had no idea then that this actually exists. Now I know.

The sea is a bit rough around our mooring but not too bad. Once we put the lines away, we took a dinghy ride to explore the neighbourhood. We found a cute beach with coconut trees and a small fire pit. Domi even noticed a ray near the shore. We saw pigs, a rooster with hens and chickens at White Cay. There were piglets as well, very sweet. The girls were frightened they might bite.  My guess is they were only hoping for some food from us, but otherwise were harmless. Plus we were sitting in the dingy, pretty safe.

This is our second day at Rudder Cut Cay. We have found great beaches with coconut trees. Today is May 2, Mothers Day in Hungary. The girls surprised me with a nice painting! Every evening at 7.30 sharp we hear the boats honking. We don’t yet know the reason, they might just be saying farewell to the passing day this way… Domi researched this a bit and found that in this area they blow the conch horns as the sun slips below the horizon.

This afternoon we went snorkeling again at the small cave. A coconut hunt was on offer as the morning program which lasted up till noon. A German couple from their boat “Flora” came over to say hello. They started out a year before us, this is their second year here.

The stars are wonderful here at night. There is no bothersome lightsmog, you can almost see the Milky Way reflecting on the water. Venus and the North Star are shimmering on their right spots.

Today we sailed on the eastern side of the islands. The waves were unpleasantly rough, and as our main sail had been torn, we could only use the jib, which made things a bit dicey. Both Domi and I got seasick so we turned into a lagoon hoping for better conditions. The water was super shallow and had a very strong current, so after about an hour of struggling we made our way back out to the rough sea to finally arrive at an easily accessible resting place.

The night we spent on anchor near a town. Next day we headed north on the inner side of the islands. The waves were much calmer here. Right now we are at Staniel Cay. They also keep pigs here on the shore, sometimes we go to take a look at them.

It’s been three days since we arrived here. There are quite many sharks and rays compared to earlier. Big motorized yachts and sailboats surround us. We might go try our luck at shark petting in the harbour in the afternoon. The forecast predicts stormy weather from tomorrow on. We will probably stick it out here until the rain, lightning and strong wind leave the area. Our next anchorage will most likely be a pay spot. There is also a srong current which is a fairly unknown territory for us. Yesterday we went into the settlement. It is built around a huge radio tower. It consists of a few houses, rooms for rent, there is a hotel and a small airport nearby. We have seen some small planes and hydroplanes. In the yards there are a bunch of hens, roosters, chicks, cats and dogs – to the greatest delight of the girls. And banana and papaya trees.