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Sandy and I have been sailors since shortly after we married in 1971. Our current boat, a 34 foot long, 1983 O'Day sailboat, is named Whistwind. It has been our weekend and summer vacation haven on the Chesapeake Bay for 20 years. Having retired in early 2000, we felt it was time to get Whistwind out of the Chesapeake to see some other sights. We settled on The Bahamas.

What follows is the ships log that we maintained during the trip. Since the laptop gave out along the way back, the log ends in Georgia on the way up the ICW. I hope you enjoy the words. If I get ambitious I'll also post some photos. (This site was originally set up with photos on MSN but the inadvertantly closed my account and deleted the site forever.) It is my hope that this site will be valuable to folks planning similar cruises as well as casual readers.


Whistwind at Anchor

The trip would carry us down the Chesapeake Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to Florida. Then we would cross the Gulf Stream to The Bahamas where we would cruise through some of the hundreds of smaller islands, doing our best to avoid the usual tourist havens. Finally, we'd return to Florida and back up the US coast to Rock Hall, MD, where we keep the boat. Altogether, the trip would cover well over 3,000 miles. We intended to take our time and savor the places we visited, leaving near the end of September and taking eight months to do the trip.

Our boat is fairly self sufficient. It has a mast and sails, of course, to make it go and a 21 horsepower diesel engine to make it go when the wind doesn't blow. There's a galley, a head with a shower and a comfortable vee-shaped berth. The main salon has two settees and a dining table where we can feed eight or more in a pinch. We carry fifty gallons of water; enough, believe it or not, for two weeks including showers. There is also a 30 gallon diesel fuel tank, enough to motor about 250 miles if necessary. Most of our daylight hours are spent in the cockpit, from which we operate the boat. Occasionally we tie the boat up for the night at a dock in a marina. But most nights we find a protected place to drop an anchor, spending the night "on the hook". Electrical stuff aboard, like lights and the refrigerator, are battery powered. Since we have no place to plug in while on the hook, we must run the engine about an hour-and-a-half each day to keep the batteries charged. We carry an inflatable dinghy on davits on the stern. Powered by an eight horsepower outboard motor, it is our "car" for the duration of the voyage. When underway, Whistwind averages about six miles per hour. Let's see … 6 miles an hour, 3,000 miles … well, you do the math.

The difference between going out for a weekend and going out for eight months was all the stuff we had to carry that would have been difficult to obtain along the way. Also, we had to carry the tools and spare parts to effect repairs when (not if) things broke down since you're likely to be far from help. Certain products like toilet paper and paper towels, for instance, were very expensive in The Bahamas. Sandy had some special dietary requirements so we stocked up on her special foods before we left. Then there were charts and cruising guides to store, the laptop, of course, and a new printer. We added office supplies to the pile and clothing and bedding needed to cover late fall as well as summer weather conditions. Altogether, we loaded an extra three carloads onto the boat, sinking it an additional 1½ inches into the water. The real problem, of course, was finding what you need when you needed it. To that end, we created a computerized inventory of what we carried and where it was stored.

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