The Abacos

A week ago we left New Providence around 4 pm and set off toward The Abacos.  We knew the trip would take over 15 hours so we sailed mostly at night so the kids could sleep through it.  The winds were around 20 knots and the seas were around 6 feet.  The winds and seas were predicted to pick up a bit during the night hours but we understood the forecast and felt comfortable and prepared.  For the first hour we had to head straight east which was straight into the wind, which therefore meant no sails up.  When you head straight into the wind, you can’t sail because you are “in irons” which means the sails luff and can’t catch any wind until you “fall off” the wind and the sails fill.  We were hoping to head farther east before heading north in the direction of The Abacos because the first cut east of New Providence is shallow and a bit tricky with the possibility of hitting submerged rocks.  But the seas were so rough without the sails up (the sails really help the boat cut through the waves and make the ride much more smooth) that we had to take the first cut north.  Marc was at the helm and I was constantly studying our hard charts and plotting the areas to avoid on the chartplotter.  We made it through but vowed to avoid that cut in the future.  Just as we made it through the cut we raised the sails and Camden noticed that our davits (what we hang the dinghy from above the stern of the boat) were missing a pin and that one of the davits support poles was bent.  That first hour of heading into the wind was so choppy it caused the dinghy to move around a lot and must have put too much pressure on the davits.  Cam saved the day again because it was better to have this happen in the daylight than at night.  We still had about an hour left of light and Marc went to work unlashing the dinghy carefully and lowering it into the water without the whole contraption falling apart.  He was leaning over and contorting his body this way and that.  I must say I was quite impressed with his acrobatic skills.  We of course were all tethered in so Marc was safe at all times.  We will get the davits repaired this summer when Adagio is dry docked in Florida, so for the remainder of this season we will just tow our dinghy behind with a 50 foot line.

Once that excitement was over, we all nestled into the cockpit with some cheese and crackers and watched the sun set off our port side.  This was the first time Marc and I would be sailing through the night with the kids on board so we had a few extra nerves but were confident at the same time.  The wind was still around 20 knots and the seas were now around 6-8 feet.  With our direction of NNE, the waves were rolling from starboard to port making it quite a rolly ride.  All of us felt a bit queasy so we decided it would be best if the kids fell asleep up top in the cockpit (going below with even a tinge of seasickness is a bad move).  All three kids fell asleep quickly and Marc and I talked and stayed up together for another hour.  Two cruise ships were on a similar course leaving New Providence heading north and it was fun to sail for a few hours near them.  We talked to the captains of the cruise ships on the VHF to communicate each of our course headings to insure there would be no collision.  It was strange and fun to say on channel 16, “Carnival Cruise Ship, Carnival Cruise Ship, this is sailing vessel Adagio” because as I looked up at it I felt so small on our boat.  Both cruise ships were heading a little straighter north than we were so crash collision

Marc and I decided to take 2 hour watches, which means one of us is at the helm for 2 hours while the other person sleeps or at least rests for 2 hours and then we switch.  I was on watch first and Marc was able to sleep a little in the cockpit right beside me.  With the moon high in the sky it was fairly easy to see my surroundings and to tell the truth it was quite peaceful.  Living on a boat with 4 other people, I rarely get any quiet or alone time, so I decided to enjoy every moment despite a bit a seasickness.moonnight sailAround 3 am I knew we were approaching the southern tip of Great Abaco so I kept my eyes peeled for the lighthouse.  I finally saw a light in the distance which I assumed was the lighthouse.  Well, with depth perception being an issue in the dark, what I mistook for a lighthouse was actually another sailing vessel coming straight at us.  The other sailboat’s AIS was not working so they did not show up on our chartplotter.  (AIS stands for Automatic Identification System and if you pay to have AIS transmitted, other vessels can see yours appear on their chartplotter.)  With the other boat’s AIS transmission not working, I did not see them until they were fairly close.  But because our AIS transmission was working, the other captain already knew the brand, length and name of our vessel and could see us coming miles away on their chartplotter.  The captain hailed Adagio on the VHF and we decided each of us would head to port, giving each other plenty of room.  The captain of the other boat was not aware he was a “ghost” on AIS, so he appreciated us letting him know and he said he was adding fixing the AIS to his lengthy list of boat repairs.

Throughout the early morning hours and into sunrise we worked our way around the eastern shore of Great Abaco.  Around 8 am, Camden cast his trolling line in the water and within ten minutes, we heard the line whiz and we knew we caught a fish.  Unfortunately it got away before we could reel it in so Cam cast another one.  After five minutes we heard our favorite whiz noise again and this time he got it.  We slowed the boat down, killed the fish and got it on board.  Since we are fishing novices, we weren’t sure at first what we caught.  So Marc and Camden got out their fish charts, compared notes and unanimously decided we caught our first Spanish Mackerel.DSC_0129DSC_0122DSC_0191With a fresh fish on board and 18 hours of sailing under our belt, we finally headed into the North Bar Channel cut and dropped anchor at Tilloo Cay.  As soon as we were anchored I started to walk up on the foredeck when I noticed something small by my foot.  It turned out we caught another fish, or I guess it caught us.  A flying fish must have jumped on board during the night.  By this time he was all dried out and was hard as a rock.  Maria immediately latched onto the flying fish and exclaimed, “My pish, my pish!”  She carried that fish around all day, singing to him, playing pretend with him and even tucking him into bed in the cockpit in a blanket (luckily it had no smell).DSC_0089DSC_0072DSC_0171DSC_0157


Maria introducing her fish to Camden’s

This was a great ending to a long but rewarding sail.  We made it to The Abacos with an additional two aquatic crew members on board.



14 thoughts on “The Abacos

  1. We especially liked this post. Having a 3 year old also, we became very tickled at the visual of your daughter playing with the dead flying fish. I (Tom) rarely laugh aloud as I am reading, but just couldn’t help myself. We will soon be starting on building our new vessel ‘Dania’ and look forward to sharing the journey with you.
    God Bless

    Tom & Maggy Vogt

  2. I love all of your posts and the photography is exceptional! Keep up the good work, or should I say fun sailing? Your children will learn lessons they will never forget. Your posts almost make me feel like I’m there.

  3. Miss you guys! I love reading your adventures. We move back to Carmel mid June! We have enjoyed our time in Milwaukee but are ready to be home.

  4. Jen — so great to hear about your overnight passage — well done! Enjoy the Abacos! There is very good — and shallow — snorkeling between the little islands at Tilloo Cut, very near where you are. Also very good at Sandy Cay but much deeper water. You might try asking on Cruisers Net, Ch 68 at 8:15 daily, about repairing your davits — sometimes it is cheaper in the Bahamas, and good quality work — maybe on Man O War island. Cool things to see — the bronze foundry at Little Harbor and the Hopetown Lighthouse. If you go up to the lighthouse just before dusk, you can watch him light the kerosene burner and see how the Fresnel lenses work. We are in Sandy Hook, NJ, now, on our way to RI to put the boat on the hard for the summer, will be setting out again in late August. Take care! –Dorothy

    • Dorothy, great to hear from you! We are now in Harbor Town and plan tomorrow evening to take the kids up in the lighthouse with the lighthouse keeper.

      Are you all going to The Exumas next winter? If so we will see you there! Have a great summer.

  5. Love this story! Thank you for continuing to share your adventures! Thanks as well for explaining the sailing terms!

  6. Awesome photos ! Beautiful moon lite night ! You are real troopers sailing through the night. Amazing how you both handle any ” bumps in the road” with such confidence & ease. .Sooo proud of you! Great catch, Cam – you are a real fisherman now! Maria- love your pish too. Joellen, I hear that you are a big helper on board. Safe travels, Adagio – Godspeed… Love you, nana & Papa 🙂

  7. Thanks for taking the time to draft these posts. I’m always excited to get them. This one was the best – just like being there — almost. Think of all the things you’ve learned in the past year. How cool! To say nothing of the experiences you’ve had. I second the motion to write a book.
    Smooth sailing.

  8. We are so eager and excited to read your posts. What an amazing life you are living aboard the Adago. We love seeing how the kids are experiencing so many new things and how you and Marc handle all this exciting life gives you. What an amazing family you are!! God bless you all.

  9. What a beautiful picture of the moon!!! I bet it is hard to find those peaceful moments, so glad you were able to enjoy it!
    Maria’s little fish is cracking me up! How funny, she looks so proud of her pish.

  10. What a great story. You both could write a book and make real money. I love looking at the pictures of Maria carrying around her Pish. Continue safe travels. teggie

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