A Different Visit to the Abacos

Dorian Hovers Over the Abacos

This is a reposting from earlier this season for those that didn’t get notified of the December post.

Phebe and I have spent much of our time aboard Noodin in the Abacos and have gotten to know many of her people and places. We had made the decision to skip the Abacos this season in favor of seeing new places in the Bahamas.

On September 1st, Hurricane Dorian came ashore with winds over 200mph, spawning tornadoes, and in some places bringing a 20′ storm surge. Total destruction in many places. As it got closer to the start of our sailing season we made the decision to take another trip to the Abacos to see if we could help in some small way. Even if we just showed up and supported them with hugs and spending money in their stores would help show that they weren’t forgotten.

We got hooked up with Bill and Loree in Vero Beach who were purchasing supplies and arranging their transport to Green Turtle Cay. We did a little shopping with them and filled the remaining voids aboard Noodin with bottles of propane, oil, WD40, and brooms.

Shopping with Bill and Loree

Our very good friend Dan decided to join us for our Gulf Stream crossing for which we are thankful. It was his first Bahamas visit and for him to choose to make it to the hurricane ravaged Abacos shows a lot about his good character.

Team Noodin

The Gulf Stream crossing was nearly windless and the seas small. Noodin rolled more than normal with the weight she carried but all was good. The bioluminescence that night in the Gulf Stream was incredible. Rivulets of white-blue light streaming from the bow was an amazing sight. Thirty two hours later we were anchored in the Bahamas watching a beautiful sunset.

Sunset from Munjack Cay

We had made arrangements for a mooring ball in Black Sound on Green Turtle Cay where we had stayed last year. We understood that they would have work for us to do as much of the marina had been destroyed. As it turned out they weren’t ready for our help which in the end left us frustrated.

Sailing into Black Sound was a surrealistic experience. Homes were damaged. Homes were destroyed. The shores were littered with boats. Some were sunken and others were way up on land. We took some pictures but in the end it just wasn’t something that I wanted to dwell on so just quit. The worst of the damage couldn’t be shown in pictures because the homes were just gone. Completely gone. It’s amazing that there were no deaths on Green Turtle Cay. The stories were amazing. People huddled in a basement as it filled with water and having to bail out the water to keep from drowning. An elderly person leaving a destroyed home, crawling and clinging to blades of grass to find new shelter. Someone watching the tornadoes take the houses next door and having his son sucked out and away. Crazy, emotional stuff.

This beautiful boat was on the mooring next to us last winter. She and her mooring drug aground during Dorian.

The foreground shows a foundation that use to be a beautiful cottage. 

Many vehicles were destroyed and damaged

Fires burned on Great Abaco filling the air with smoke

Our effort to help out on Green Turtle Cay didn’t turn out the way we had hoped. We weren’t able to get plugged in to the right place to get work to do. We were able to bring supplies, hug people and listen to their stories, and spend money to help them support themselves. We even untangle a crazy mass of Christmas lights and helped set up a Christmas display.

There are many private groups doing great work on Green Turtle Cay and other places in the Abacos. They do everything from cooking meals to building houses and everything in between. They are awesome! The Bahamian government on the other hand is nowhere to be seen. No help whatsoever from the government.

Team Noodin has moved on with sadness for the people of the Abacos who have suffered so much and who will continue to suffer. They are strong, God fearing people and will be ok but it will be a long road. Please pray for them.

Our dinghy landing in Black Sound 

The beaches are still beautiful 

and the water is still wonderful 

Bahamas Again

We met Jeff and Karen of Airbender while we were in Vero Beach and after some conversation we agreed that we would cross the Gulf Stream together on our way to the Bahamas. We had a few days before there would be appropriate weather for crossing the Gulf Stream so we laid over at Peck Lake for a couple of days before heading for Lake Worth which would be our final stop before leaving the country. Peck Lake was an awesome stop right on the ICW and a very protected anchorage. A short dinghy ride and a shorter walk got us to the Atlantic Ocean and miles of lonely beach. There was a lot of debris washed up on the beach from the hurricanes as well as 100’s of Portuguese Man of War jelly fish. You definitely had to pay attention so you didn’t step on them.

From Peck Lake it was about a six hour trip down the ICW to Lake Worth. This is a stretch of the ICW with many bridges and fancy homes. There were 6 bridges with 5 of them opening only on the hour and half hour. We tried to time our arrival to be there for the opening but no so early that we had to hold station and wait. Waiting in a sailboat when there is wind and current is not always easy. We missed one opening because the bridge operator decided to open early for some reason but other than that it was a smooth trip.

The weather had been sketchy for crossing the Gulf Stream but we had a weather window to make the crossing a couple of days after arriving in Lake Worth. The crews of Noodin and Airbender made last runs to the grocery and liquor stores. Plans were made to raise anchor the next morning and proceed out the Lake Worth inlet and head for the Little Bahama Bank. We’ve now learned that a cruisers “plans” are really nothing more than ideas as things often change rapidly. This was one of those times. As we were putting things away for our crossing we noticed excess water in the bilge. The bilge pump float switch wasn’t working so we manually operated the pump. It moved water but it smelled hot. We made the decision to stay in the states and make repairs rather than cross the Gulf Stream with a marginal bilge pump. We reluctantly called Jeff and Karen and let them know that we weren’t leaving in the morning but encouraged them to go. There wasn’t supposed to be good crossing weather for another week or more so it was important to go now if possible. They were able to hook up with other friends to leave in the morning and we were happy for them. The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we diagnosed and repaired the float switch problem and determined that all was good with the pump. It was about noon by this time but we decided to haul anchor and head for The Bahamas anyway. We had basically calm weather and motor sailed for about 24 hours to arrive at Powell Cay in the Abacos. We had saved a couple of special passage beers for the occasion.

The next day we arrived at Green Turtle Cay just ahead of Airbender and cleared customs. We were officially in the Bahamas again!