Written by Kyle Hahn

April 27, 2016 – Depart Port Antonio, Jamaica                                                                                         April 30, 2016 – Anchor in Jamaica Bay, Bahamas                                                                                   May 1, 2016 – Anchor off Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas and go ashore                           May 15, 2016 – Depart Bahamas                                                                                                                 May 17, 2016 – Arrive in Stuart, Florida

The last post left off with us dropping anchor at the south end of the Bahamas, on the west side of Acklins Island. We dropped anchor a ways away from the more protected area. We did not have a functional depth sounder so we played it safe and anchored a ways from the coastline, leaving us somewhat exposed. We slept in the following morning, made some minor repairs, and sailed half a day north to Crooked Island, just west of the Landrail Point Settlement. The next morning, we had a nice sail to Clarence Town, which provided a well protected anchorage, a few other sailboats, and fresh food on shore. It had been 5 days since we had stepped foot on land back in Jamaica.


Land Ho! Acklins Island, Bahamas


We had a spare depth sounder transducer attached to the end of a boat hook by zip ties. This got us by as we navigated the Bahamas, and was a step up from our lead line.


Zip ties used to salvage our dinghy pump. “Nothing lasts but nothing is lost”-T. McKenna.

Clarence Town was still recovering from hurricane Joaquin in 2015 and has a small population of less than 100 people. The town’s restaurants and stores are limited but more than enough to make us happy. We were extremely thankful for a fresh salad at the marina restaurant. We had expected to run into crowded anchorages and lots of other boats, but being so late in the season, most boats had already headed north, back to mainland United States and out of the dangers of hurricane season. We met a friendly couple aboard Moondance, and stretched our legs by wandering the town for our first day. We enjoyed a great freshwater shower off the edge of a roof during a heavy downpour, which ridded our bodies and clothes of the accumulated salt. The highlight of our stop in Clarence Town was definitely the day we hitched a ride north to Dean’s Blue Hole, which is a famous free diving location, and one of the deepest blue holes in the world. One can snorkel around the edge, in 5-10 feet of water, and then peer deep into the abyss, which plunges 663 feet into darkness. A national competition had occurred the previous day, where William Trubridge reached 122M (400ft) depth in 4 minutes 24 seconds for a new world record freedive. They were filming him and other competitors for a documentary, so we snorkled near the edges as they descended down beyond sight, without oxygen tanks. Aside from the amazing human feats, it was also a natural wonder, complete with white sand and lovely aquatic life.


Documentary crew filming the free dive champion at Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island


Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island


Our next stop with Winnie was on the northwestern tip of Long Island, in the well-protected bay on Galliot Cay, then onward to Georgetown. Georgetown is a popular location in the Bahamas as well as Stocking Island. A day at the Chat-N-Chill can be described as a retirees’ summer camp, complete with a pig cookout, booze, volleyball, several games, a nice beach and picnic tables.


We continued north through the Exumas, dropping anchor at the Rockers Point Settlement for the best laundry in the Caribbean. We circled the crowded anchorage and found a spot to drop the hook. I was at the bow letting out chain by hand while Kassie was at the helm guiding Winnie into our desired position. As the anchor hit the bottom and I was paying out chain, I heard Kass yell, “Oh no! I am holding this!” The bolt holding the gear lever had rusted through and we were stuck in forward, without a shifter to put us back into neutral. She quickly killed the engine and I dumped some chain and ran aft to assess the situation. The anchor grabbed bottom and Winnie spun a 180 as we scrambled to make a quick repair.  I clamped on a pair of pliers where the lever had been, and we pulled anchor and circled around once more to settle in properly.  We gave the other cruiser’s a show during their Happy Hour ashore.


Next we went through Adderly Cut to visit Lee Stocking Island. Making it through some of the cuts from the East side to West side of the Exumas, and back requires dedicated timing if you want to avoid strong currents and heavy seas. We don’t usually mind so much, as long as it is still safe, by our standard. This means we occasionally fought 4 knot current against us, allowing us to traverse the cut at about 2 knots, or we rode the incoming tide, zipping through at up to 10 knots at one point. Opposing tide and trade winds meant steep seas through the cuts, but the moments of excitement usually lasted just 30 minutes or so until we made it through. Lee Stocking Island was one of my favorite stops in the Bahamas, due to the abandoned research station. After a short row to shore, we felt as though we stumbled upon the remnants of a research experiment gone awry, on a post-apocalyptic deserted island. There were buildings full of abandoned lab equipment and aquarium tanks, empty dormitories, labs full of vials and empty chemical containers, and an overgrown runway nearby. I don’t know what type of marine research they did, or why the center was abandoned, but I was disappointed that so many environmentally conscious people could leave a beautiful island scarred by their runway, buildings, and old equipment. Maybe one day it will be rebuilt.  At least it was fun to walk around without anyone else around, like the beginnings of a scary movie.


High waves through Adderly Cut


Building from an abandoned research project on Lee Stocking Island


Another couple of days landed us in the popular Staniel Cay, which is home of a really nice marina/restaurant, swimming pigs on a beach nearby, and home of the “Thunderball Grotto”, made famous from the old James Bond film. It is at Staniel Cay that our dinghy finally died. We had patched it numerous times, and were holding the transom to the pontoons with paracord. On its last day, we pumped it up to row ashore, then pulled it up onto the hot beach. The extra pumps we gave it, combined with the hot sun, caused the seems to give way. We were in the process of motoring over to Thunderball Grotto, when we couldn’t keep enough air in it. Kass continued to pump using the hand pump, when the transom folded down and we almost lost the 4HP engine off of the back. We quickly turned around, and made it back to Winnie, as Kass held the bow out of the water while I was holding the engine above the water, still using its propulsion to make headway. It was like the scene from Pirates of the Caribbean, as Jack Sparrow stepped off of his ship while it sank behind him. We managed to save the engine, but the dinghy was just a pile of deflated PVC in the water. The only thing that still held air was the inflatable floor, which leaked slowly. Lucky for us, we were in the Bahamas, near civilization, and almost back to the United States. It was a good time for it to die, and served us well when we truly needed it. From then on out, we were able to anchor Winnie close enough to beaches and snorkeling spots that we could swim ashore, or paddle our inflatable floor with a dry bag to land. We visited the swimming pigs, snorkled the beautiful Thunderball Grotto, and swam to Pirate Beach. At Pirate Beach we reunited with our friends aboard “Party of Five”, whom we had originally met in Isla Mujeres, Mexico. We spent two nights anchored near Waderick Wells Cay, doing a long hike, and snorkeling within the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. We even saw our first really scary looking shark lurking near us while snorkeling, which made me get out of the water quickly (Kass stayed long enough to get a pic). We found another less-known but equally as beautiful grotto which we had to swim under some rocks to get inside of the large cavernous interior. We stayed anchored one last night on the west side of Highborne Cay before departing NW towards Florida. We passed through Nassau, with Atlantis Resort on our starboard, and the bustling downtown on our port, but did not stop. We left the Berry Islands to our port, and Freeport on our starboard as we headed NW towards Florida. It was an easy downwind, broad reach tack with the trade winds taking us to the Saint Lucie Inlet of Florida. We experienced numerous dolphins on this route, playing in our bow wake and showing off their leaps and agility.


All that’s left of our dinghy



Thunderball Grotto


Thunderball Grotto


Thunderball Grotto


Bahama pigs


Wading in the water with the Bahama Pigs


The island with the lesser known grotto. Rocky Dundas, Bahamas. From the approach we couldn’t see where we would enter.


A view into the interior cavern.


Inside Rocky Dundas


Exploring Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. Darn it! Broken flip flop. Kyle sewed it back on for me and I still have them.


“The mail boat done reach.” One of my favorite phrases in the Bahamas meaning the mail boat has arrived.


Our last sail in the Bahamas. We couldn’t have done it without our trusty Monitor Wind Vane

Once we had passed the breakwater of St Lucie Inlet, we followed the Intracostal Waterway (ICW) a short distance to Stuart, FL. My parents had just bought a trawler in Stuart, located at the Loggerhead Marina, which gave us a good destination to land at.

This leg of our journey was complete, but it would take a lot of time for it all to sink in. We have done a lot of reflection since then, and have figured out different ways of taking lessons away, and how to carry those lessons into our new life on land.

I have yet to tabulate our miles traveled, and overall stats for the trip. More to come on those stats, and reflection, once I get around to it. We spent about a year and a half living aboard Winnie, traveling through Cuba, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, Jamaica, and the Bahamas.

The voyage started a long time ago now, starting in Norwalk, CT, where I first found Winnie. From there I took her across Long Island Sound, up the Hudson, through the Eerie Canal, Lake Eerie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, through the Chicago ship canal, hauling her out where she would live in my parents front yard for over a year, refitting her for deeper waters. She then went back into the river system where my crew and I reunited her with the ocean once again. It was a hell of a ride, and the most authentic thing I have ever witnessed, been apart of, or done. More to come on this later.


One Comment

  1. Kyle & Kassie, You had a remarkable journey and we are proud of you both. Thanks for sharing your all of your stories and pictures. Sandy & Tom Bachman



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s