Journey of the Snowgoose

Excerpt Three ...

     On April 10 we all leave Honeymoon for Cat Cay at 10:30 AM. The wind is stiff at 18 knots out of the southeast. It is a crisp, bright day. The high rocky ledge to our north is quite defined and on the south side of this cut that takes us from the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic to the Bahamas Bank and the south side is very shallow water. The water in the cut sloshes, pocks with four feet waves and strong current. Now we motor south down the east edge of Cat Cay to a private harbor. Bill goes ashore to clear us through customs. The customs man said to Harold, "Didn't I see you at Honeymoon Harbor this weekend walking your dog?" Back north along Cat Cay's eastern edge, we six boats line up like ducks in a row for the night, before starting across the Bahamas Bank in the morning light. And we were caught doing what all sailors know not to do, anchor on a windward shore. A rather huge wind appeared unexpectedly, thirty knots, and we all sat in our cockpits all night, watching. Sometime in the wee hours I saw an empty space to the stern where the dinghy should be. We'd pitched so hard it has untied itself. Now it is on the way north in the Atlantic.

     April 11, the morning after, a change in plans. We all motor back through the cut, then north to Honeymoon Harbor again. Bill and I fell asleep immediately after we anchored.

     Today, April 12, we are sailing to Russell Light on the Bahamas Bank. The wind is 25 knots. The little bit of the Gulf Stream we had to go in to get to the cut was scary rough this time. We cleared the cut at 0830 hours and reefed the main sail and set the storm jib to start across the bank. At noon we sail on reefed main and Genoa. At 1300 hours we shook out the main sail. At 1500 hours we turned on the motor. At 1700 hours we anchored at Russell Light in six feet waves. Snow Goose is rocking and rolling with plow anchor, 50 feet of chain and 150 feet of line. We are utterly exhausted. And the scene and feel of this anchorage with no land for miles and miles, nothing in sight is hair raising when we think about it. The three large boats kept going to Chubb Cay. We three little ones didn't have the engine power, couldn't make the landfall in daylight. We are fifty miles from Cat Cay and 35 miles from Chubb Cay. Looking down into the water it appears we are suspended midair. Now another miserable bouncy night with the wind at thirty knots. But the anchor held. Today we all head for Chubb Cay with clear sky, three foot waves and wind, 15 knots. Last night was anyone's idea of a nightmare. Bill and I each held onto the pole in the main cabin that supports the mast so we wouldn't fall out of our bunks. Finally I slept on the sole of the cabin' between the bunks. At 1200 hours we spotted N.W. Channel light. Six foot waves and getting steeper. There is a heavy set to the current, waves coming over the bow almost to the cockpit. Here in the tongue of the ocean,   . . .

by Barbary Chaapel

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     Years ago, with the precision of sailors' tools and compass rose, fate already had charted their course. Barbary Chaapel was born in the mountains of West Virginia and moved to the shore of Lake Erie in Painesville, Ohio. She is the author of the award winning No Name Harbor, Poetry of Barbary Chaapel.