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OCC RoRC report from the Atlantic Islands

by Jonathan & Anne Lloyd 29 Jul 2019 08:49 UTC
Sofia on passage to Eleuthra © Jonathan & Anne Lloyd

At the start of April, Sofia was safely tucked up in the snug anchorage of Royal Island at the northern end of Eleuthera waiting out yet another significant cold front. We knew that cold fronts coming down from the south-east coast of the USA were a feature of Bahamian weather in the winter months, but had not appreciated their frequency, duration and strength. They have had a significant impact on our cruising plans as many of the anchorages in the Bahamas do not provide sufficient protection as the wind veers from South through West to North East with gusts of up to 30 and occasionally 40 knots!

Once this cold front had blown through we proceeded on the short hop to Spanish Wells, which is the principal fishing port of the Bahamas and from there made our way down the east coast of Eleuthera calling in at Hatchet Bay, Governors Harbour and Rock Sound. From there, an overnight passage took us to Georgetown on Great Exuma, which is the sailing centre of the southern Bahamas. Its large protected harbour is home to hundreds of mainly US and Canadian yachts, many of whom spend the whole winter there! On arrival, we were warmly greeted by OCC friends Don and Nina Preuss, whom we had last encountered in Beaufort NC in November last year. After a few days enjoying Georgetown in their company we set off north up the Exuma Cays calling in at Normans Pond Cay, Farmers Cay, where we linked up with OCC friends Reg and Nicky Barker on Blue Velvet of Sark, Black Point and Staniel Cay, where we had arranged to collect two replacement solar panels, which had been delivered by air from the United States.

Staniel Cay is a popular spot for cruisers with extensive anchorages close to the attractions provided by the beach with swimming pigs, snorkelling in the Thunderball Grotto made famous by the Bond film of the same name and the friendly hospitality provided by the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. We spent a week here in the run-up to Easter fitting the new solar panels and waiting out yet another major cold front to blow through. From there we headed up to Bell Island where we ended up spending far longer than expected due to the failure of the throttle control cable and having to wait ten days for a replacement part to be shipped from the US. This delay meant missing out on the rest of the Exuma Cays if we were not to fall too far behind our intended departure timeframe for Bermuda. So with new cable installed we headed north to Spanish Wells to provision, fuel and clear out for Bermuda. After an uneventful passage, we arrived in St George's Harbour to find it crowded with OCC yachts heading for the Azores.

Accordingly, we arranged an informal get together for the crews of 15 yachts (including yachts belonging to the OCC West to East Atlantic Crossing Group), which was kindly hosted by PORs Steve and Suzanne Hollis. Then it was time to head back across the Atlantic to the Azores. After a brief stopover in Flores, we made our way down to Horta, where POR Jose Henrique Azevedo very generously hosted a reception for the 19 OCC and Crossing Group yachts in the harbour. We are now in Terciera for the "Festa" or feast of St John and will spend the rest of July cruising these delightful islands before SOFIA heads home for her berth on the Hamble and a well-deserved rest. So this is our final report.

In conclusion, we have much enjoyed the privilege of being Roving Rear Commodores for the last three years and the opportunity to interact with an interesting cross-section of members. We have also come to appreciate fully the value to the Club and its members of the network of Port Officers and PORs, many of whom are quite outstanding.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

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