April 16, 2009.
After our late arrival and subsequent work to put the boat back in order we slept like babies. We had planned to spend a few days here before working our way up to Baker’s Bay. Baker’s Bay is a popular anchorage for boaters waiting to make the trip north through The Whale.
The Whale is a section of water that has a well deserved, very sinister reputation. When approaching the Whale from the south you have to transit a winding narrow section of water. This course leads you out into the Atlantic Ocean for a mile or so before bringing you right back into the sea of Abaco through the next cut. The water just offshore is thousands of feet deep and comes up to 25 feet in a very short distance. The result is large rollers that have a tendency to break violently even during fairly benign weather.
Quoting the Abaco, Ports of Call and Anchorages book. “Large ocean going freighters have been known to capsize with loss of lives attempting this passage”. Only a fool or the uninformed would take The Whale lightly. It’s not unusual to have dozens of boats at either end of The Whale waiting for a weather window to make this deceptively easy looking 5 mile passage. So it’s with this in mind we decided to accelerate our trip north.
There’s a huge low pressure system that will pass well north of our position. The winds will be in the 50 knot range. While the wind won’t really affect us it will drive a 10 to 15 foot swell down to The Whale. The Whale is predicted to get very lumpy on Friday and impassible for at least Saturday and Sunday.
So if we get right back on the horse we can knock out a 40 mile day and be past The Whale before the conditions deteriorate. After listening to the weather we were considering that very thing when Norm called and proposed the same plan.
We ended up hauling the hook at 1000 and started heading north. The wind was from the north northeast at 10 to 15 knots as we motorsailed north. At around noon we were able to turn just west enough that we could kill the engine and take advantage of the breeze.
It was another really great day of sailing. We averaged 7 knots for the rest of the day as the 2 of us sped northward. The Sea of Abaco is fairly shallow so you have to pay attention to the chart and follow a proven route as you travel. We were broad reaching, close reaching and close hauled several times during the day. We blew right by Baker’s Bay and with a favorable breeze there was no reason to consider stopping. It was tons of fun and before we knew it we were into The Whales approach.
The water in the Sea of Abaco was smooth as silk and the breeze was pleasant. When we got into The Whale proper I was surprised just how rough it was. Rough isn’t really the right word as it was only a bit lumpy but I could see how it could become dangerous even in decent conditions.
So needless to say, I’m glad The Whale is behind us and we’re anchored at Green Turtle Cay.