What do I think about when I hear the word “summertime?” I think of my boat in the Bahamas. Oh sure it’s hurricane season but for me it has always been the BEST time to be out there. While I’m certainly not encouraging everyone to sail to the Bahamas in the summertime, for me it’s better than cramped quarters in Fort Lauderdale when a tropical storm or hurricane approaches.
Think of it, alone in a secluded Bahamas anchorage, perhaps tied up to mangroves with only yourselves and your own boat to worry about to ride out the storm. That to me is much better than the horrific ride up a river with dozens of other boats, bridges to open, tides to contend with, and masses of other boats moored very close and a possible danger to your boat!
All I’m saying is with a bit of awareness and preparation summertime can be the most magical time of the year to enjoy Bahamian beauty.
We have weathered three direct hurricanes in the Bahamas. You can torture me all you like, but I am NOT going to divulge where we chose to hide out from these storms. But I can give an idea of what to do with your tender and handheld depth sounder. You will have a choice of dozens of little holes that no one has charted with soundings. Get into your tender to explore and sound, and see if you can use this uncharted spot as a potential hurricane hole where you will be all by yourself. That is what I want when a hurricane is bearing down on me and my boat!
True, a lot of insurance companies will not want to insure your boat, but our insurance will insure my boat for a named storm. Understand your coverage before you go. You may be surprised.
Just visualize this: no cold fronts, wind out of the southeast every day about 10 to 15, water so warm you live under it more than above it. That means snorkeling, diving, and fishing, without ever getting chilled! Most anchorages that are bulging with boats in the winter months are absolutely empty!. This might not make for good happy hours, but certainly lives up to peaceful, quiet and delightful! We get a great squall just about every single day. Then the sun comes out soon again, and all our laundry that was soaking in the dinghy rain water dries almost immediately.
We have rainbows, water spouts, lightening storms that light up the sky at night in spectacular shows of Mother Nature’s Power! The entire horizon looks like flashing Chinese lanterns! It is so beautiful.
Sailing is superb, flat seas, moderate winds, gorgeous water with turquoise, emerald, pearl, and deep sapphire blue as you sail through the banks, around the sandbars, out the passes to Exuma Sound, all breathtakingly colorful! And running around in the tender is special in the summer too. Flat calm sometimes, with water surface like glass to peer into and see every detail of the sea bed without needing any goggles or look buckets. Sometimes we can see the shells on the white sand over 50 feet beneath our boat!
We are welcomed with open arms at the little restaurants, the tiny beach-side bars, the small grocery stores that are so grateful for customers. There are no lines, no long wait for your food, and you are always treated like royalty. There is no jockeying for anchorages close to beaches, WiFi stations, or proximity to marinas. No one is out there! Well, very few are cruising in the summer months and that means you have most of the lovely anchorages all to yourself!
There are two things to really be concerned about while cruising in the Bahamas in the summer. The first is the burning affect of the sun’s strong summer rays. Remember to keep covered with hats and clothing that block the UV sunlight, and use lots of cream for protection. Have awnings, bimini tops, and dodgers to protect you from the sun while aboard your boat.
The second is the fact that thunderstorms can come at any time of the day. Those fresh water filled squalls can come in with a vengeance bringing strong wind as they bear down on you where you are anchored or sailing. If sailing, remember, reef early, or drop all sails and just anchor in the shallow banks water. The squalls bring a lot of wind as they approach, but it does not last long, and before you know it the boat has a great wash down, and you can fill your tanks from the runoff on deck.
So, summertime in the Bahamas is really the best time to cruise these unique islands.
See you out there!!!
Pam on KANDARIK
Follow Pam on Facebook at Pam Wall Cruising and Sailing Consulting, visit her website www.pamwall.com or contact her directly at [email protected]