April 6, 2012.
We arrived in the anchorage just in time to drop 2 hooks in 30 knots and a bit o' rain. On our way here we had 10 hours to agonize over possible alternatives. The anchorage at Great Sale Cay is noted on the charts as dangerous in big south winds. It's “U” shaped and faces south. We listened to Chris Parker while on our way and he painted a picture of fairly miserable weather in our immediate future.
There were few choices that would offer us southerly protection, and if we chose any of them we would have to pull the hook and move again as the winds clocked to the west and finally north. I figured to hell with it. We'd drop two hooks and deal with the devil we know and as the wind clocked the natural protection of the anchorage would come into play. It might be miserable for a while but it would only get better and we wouldn't have to move as the wind clocked, which might happen in the middle of the night.
So we dropped our 2 hooks 45º apart facing south. There were 20 miles of open water in front of us and the 30 knots of wind had built a formidable sea. Fortunately, the anchorage was so shallow that the waves were breaking. This left them all pretty much the same size as they passed under us from bow to stern. Even though the wind was howling and there was nothing but whitewater for as far as we could see, the ride was actually fairly decent. We've been in WAY worse anchorages. Contrary to the forecast by evening the wind dropped to less than 10 knots. While still out of the south after the earlier part of the day the conditions were lovely.
The next morning the rest of the forecast came true. By 0900 we were facing 25 knots out of the southwest. Before noon the weather that had everyone so flustered was upon us. An ominous bank of blackness bore down on us and the wind jumped right up to 40 knots. After 5 minutes it had built to 50 knots before tapering back down to the high 20's. It's funny how after 10 minutes of 40 to 50 knots the high 20's felt like nothing. During the evening we had been joined by 2 other boats and I was relieved to see that all of us held position during the brunt of the blow.
The wind died during the day and we were soon facing north. The wind was supposed to build to 20 to 25 from the northeast for a day and a bit before dying off. We were through the worst of it and were able to enjoy the luxury of the cays protection so it was fine there. Now we wait for a favorable forecast to resume the slog back to the states.