Cruising With The Chilbergs: Where Have You Gone, Robinson Caruso? (BLOG)

With the annual Bahamas cruise coming to a close, Joe gets a reminder from the boating universe of the gravity that comes with the middle name Murphy.
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“Our life is unceasing wonder, growth and development.”

—Lucy Mallory

Many people leave Green Turtle Cay and head straight back to Florida. I think that is a shame, as they miss some of the prettiest spots in all the Bahamas. Most are uninhabited and solitary as one walks the beaches. There is definitely a Robinson Caruso vibe and a wonderful last Bahamian experience before one reaches Fort Lauderdale.

Mud Puddle Rose at Bluff House.

Mud Puddle Rose at Bluff House.

We left the Bluff House on Green Turtle Cay and planned to take the slow route back to Florida. Just north of Green Turtle is Manjack Cay with lovely beaches, clear water and protected anchorages. Rarely are there many boat anchored off the southern cove and it is large enough to provide privacy for everyone.

Then there is Powell Cay with terrific protection from the east and plenty of conch and sand dollars for all. I’ve been coming here since the 1980s and it really has not changed except a sunken barge north of the anchorage for snorkeling. From there, there is Allen's Pensacola, Moraine and Double Breasted Cays — all worth a few nights stay.

We planned to visit all of them … well, that is why itineraries are written in pencil!

I should have known that if you zoom out too far on your GPS, small details like sandbars do not show up! I should have double checked my route and lots of other things, but I didn’t! The generator was using coolant at Allen’s Pensacola, so we hastily decided to head back to Florida a little sooner than expected. Thus as the time came to depart, I set a course to Memory Rock north of West End and onto Fort Lauderdale.

The barge at Powell Cay.

The barge at Powell Cay.

It was 5 PM and I expected to reach Fort Lauderdale at about noon the next day. However, at about 6:30 PM, I was sitting on the flybridge and everything was going smoothly until boom … the boat suddenly stopped. The GPS showed about 18’ all around, so I zoomed back down on the GPS and there we were right on a small sandbar!

CRAP. #%$@$&%$##! [Redacted.]

When your middle name is Murphy, as mine is, we expect Murphy’s Law to be extra relevant from time to time, and this soon became one of those examples! The tide was going out, Bahamian Air Rescue did not answer their phone, and the Coast Guard in Nassau warned me that they may not be much help anyway. The Bahamian Air Rescue finally called once the Coast Guard contacted them, and all they could tell me was that they had no boats available in that part of the Bahamas, but to be encouraged as high tide is at 4 AM the next morning!

Next, I called SeaTow to see if they had any affiliates nearby and they kindly told me that my insurance had expired last month. She said, “We mailed you a notification.” At which I replied that I had not been to my mailbox since February since I left for the Bahamas … I now am on auto-renewal! So, all I could do was set out an anchor 90 degrees to port to pull the boat off once the tide rose.

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My danforth weighs 65 pounds and is wildly effective at removing skin from a hand. Another point of note, a dinghy can only drag so much chain weighing roughly 10 pounds per foot. To add, the 10 mile fetch allowed the waves to build despite only 10 knot winds … I am bobbing around like a cork in the dinghy as the sun goes down trying to drag 100 feet of chain … do the math 1,000 lbs!

Murphy’s Law is now on steroids and my blood pressure is mounting. The boat is also now beginning to tilt, and guess which side I must re-raise the dinghy? Murphy’s Law remember? Yes, we are on the high side and I can’t climb aboard as the dinghy bobs like one of those bulls in the rodeo … I am holding the painter [dinghy line] in my hand as I try to climb up and the dinghy line sides over my fingers with my weight on the dinghy … more skin gone … now it is dark … blood is dripping in the water … the theme song to “Jaws” is playing in my head and all I can think of is don’t fall in the water! What a way to end the blogs … “Joe’s Funeral at Sea … Zoom to Gloom”

Old bay Marina... or in this case sweet, sweet salvation.

Old bay Marina... or in this case sweet, sweet salvation.

About 3 AM the boat is beginning to be level and the dinghy gets back up and we finally push off at 4 AM. Forget Fort Lauderdale! We headed to the Old Bahama Bay Marina at West End on Grand Bahamas Island.

With no sleep for 36 hours, pulled muscles in my back and a neck that won’t turn due to exertion, stress, strain, I can only guess and descending blood pressure that looks like the New Year’s ball dropping at Time Square, I collapse in bed. The only good thing about crossing the Gulf Stream the next day will be that there are no sandbars!

Lee worked the dinghy hoist and windlass perfectly in adverse conditions to say the least. We now can laugh about it and, as SeaTow told me, “There are two kinds of boaters … those who have run aground and those who will.”

I must confess that his comment was not very comforting at 10 PM when high tide was still 6 hours away! More to come as we are now back in the good old USA. Don't forget to use that zoom button, folks.

Welp, it could always be worse!

Welp, it could always be worse!

You can read more Cruising with the Chilbergs here.

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