The disaster was the result of a major storm system several hundred miles away in the Atlantic Ocean creating ocean swells approaching 20 feet to arrive at the passage several days later.
As we entered back in to the Sea of Abaco, we stopped at No Name Cay, an island that is the home of wild pigs. We planned to take the dinghy in for a close look and feed them a few scraps, but the wind direction on the water made it too rough for the dinghy ride.
We continued to Green Turtle Cay and visited the town of New Plymouth founded in the 18th century. The village can trace their roots back to the Loyalists of the American Revolutionary War. Green Turtle Cay was officially settled in the 1770’s by Loyalists to the British flag and named it after the many green sea turtles that once nested there.
Green Turtle Cay was located near the shipping routes to and from the New World and was lucky enough to face a continuous stream of wrecked ships. New Plymouth once hosted one of the largest wrecking harbors in the Bahamas. Over a dozen schooners were geared and maintained for the business of salvaging wrecks. The Wrecking tree is where the wrecking vessels used to bring their salvage to sell. From here, under the shade of the tree, the loot was cataloged and prepared for shipment to Nassau. The wrecking tree restaurant was built around this tree preserving the history of the island.
We left Green Turtle Cay February 17th and anchored at Great Sale Cay, a great day of cruising and an awesome sunset.
We arrived at West End February 18th to prepare for our return to the United States. After looking at five different weather forecasts we decided Tuesday February 21st would be a good day for a crossing indicating the wind would be at our back with 2 to 3 foot seas…..about our limit. We would be crossing with 3 other boats in case one of us had any unforeseen issues. Another weather system would be approaching Wednesday and the next seven days would be impossible.
We left the marina at 7 a.m. with ideal conditions to start our crossing. About 2 hours after our departure, we noticed ship AIS targets showing up on our chart plotter. It almost looked like a game of battleship and they were all heading in our direction, although at this point they were not visible. The black horizontal line is our plotted course; the large black boat symbol on the line is our boat. The blue triangles are the ships. The small triangle on our boat is one of our buddy boats and it is actually about ¼ mile ahead of us but I am zoomed out to show the ships, and yes those numbers on the chart are the documented depths at those locations.
We were the last boat in the group and at our speed; we didn’t have to alter our course, the ships crossed in front or behind us. I can select each ship on the chart plotter and see the ships name, length of the vessel, direction of travel, and speed. We also transmit our vessel information so the ships can see our information. All vessels monitor VHF channel 16 and can hail a vessel by name if needed. Two of these ships were cruising at 15 mph.
If you look close, you can see one of our buddy boats "The Lower Place" changing course to pass behind the ship.
This container ship looks like a small city in the middle of the ocean, it was only moving at 2 mph.
The last 15 miles or so was pretty rocky, the wind blowing over 40 miles of ocean behind us caused a few 3 to 4 foot waves. We learned last year, our boat can handle a lot more than we can….thank goodness. We arrived at Lake Worth near West Palm Beach Florida and had to report our arrival to the US Customs and Border Patrol.