Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Bahamas 2019 - My Navy

Heading to the Bahamas

The Beach at Old Bahama Bay Resort - Bahamas 2019
We had been planning our trip to the Abacos Bahamas ever since we purchased 'Eximius' from the Previous owner that hat cruised that area many times. I saw it as an opportunity to put all of the work over the past 3 years to good use, as well as some enjoyable sailing.

As this is our first 'big' boat - although we had pushed the limits with our previous Catalina 250 Water Ballast 'Joint Decision' or 'JD', we have had to, and enjoyed the learning of new systems and different sailing techniques. The past three years has included our retirement which gave us the opportunity for longer sailing trips. Our 2019 Bahamas Cruise set out with a Twenty One Day time frame, simply because Peggy did not want to be in my 'Navy'.

The planning began with reading as much as we could about the options for cruising the Bahamas and whittling them down to a realistic 21 day out and back cruise.

Step One: Where?

We selected the Abacos - there's lots of places to stop, Marinas, Moorings, Anchorages and each has it's own Bahamian Charm. Realistically, we could make it to Hope Town, and either turn back towards Florida or from Hope Town continue South across the Tongue of the Ocean and head Westward to the Berry's, Bimini and then back to Florida.

With only 21 days, the trip to the Berry's would demand no delays and pushing on in order to make a deadline - not a good option when trying to enjoy the trip. So we ditched that idea. Then we added a simple idiom to reduce any stress about making it to some distant location: If we like some place, then we might stay a day or two, and if that means we don't go as far towards Hope Town, that's just fine. Someone in our sailing club, of whom I have the greatest respect when it comes to sailing, has told me on more than one occasion: "When we are cruising, we don't have any plans, we're Cruising!"

Step Two: When?

Deciding when to go is not that easy. Asking any experienced cruiser is not particularly helpful. Someone that has done the same trip multiple times will have stories of how great it was one year and how awful it was another even during the same season. Rolling the dice, we picked Late March and Early - Late April. It really does seem to be down to luck.

Step Three: Preparation

What did we need to do to prep the boat for a three week trip, how about taking care of the house while we're away, what would the trip cost and a multitude of other things. We decided to just do it!

Anyone that knows me, knows that I'm far from OCD, but during my 25 year Navy Career, I did learn the value of a good List, if you make them and use them!

I started by making a spreadsheet on Google Sheets in the cloud listing everything I thought of for the trip: Provisions, Equipment, Supplies, Spares, House Prep, Communication Information.

Peggy took on the House Prep: She setup auto payments for all of our anticipated bills during our trip and figured how we would finance the cruise. Despite me being the one that does the cooking, Peggy also took on the Provisioning part of the list. In the weeks leading up to our departure, we cooked extra meals and used our Freeze-a-Meal kit to vacuum pack them and freeze them. We even shaped them so that they would fit efficiently in our boat's freezer.

We included things in the House Prep list such as having someone check on the house regularly, that was easy, our Son In Law is a Police Officer and drives past our house on his way to work, plus our neighbors are a very close bunch and we watch out for each other all the time. 

For years I've known about the value of a Ships Log but never had one. Also, in the past we have always given a float plan to our family so that they know where and when we're going and when we should check in. Wouldn't it be great of the two things - Ships Log and Float plan were combined. Among other things, it would reduce the need to keep re-entering the same info.

I asked my FB friends what they used for their log book and received an Excel spreadsheet, suggestions for various Brand log books. I also spent hours following Goggle clues. In the end I decided to design my own. I've posted about that design here.

As a result of this trip, I'll be making several changes to the log book design.

Once we had a date and a list (ok, many lists) of things to do in prep for the trip, we worked  a bit each day to get our act together. The plan was to be ready by March 22nd and to leave on the first good weather window on or after that date.

A group of other club members left for the Abacos on the 25th but we held out for better weather. We finally loaded the perishable foods and our clothing on March 30th for a 6pm departure from the dock in Fort Lauderdale.

Next: Crossing the Gulf

See you on the Water.

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