Sailing Through The Bahamas! Getting Stuck in Andros Island Harbor!

In 2016 I helped a friend sail a boat from Virginia to Aruba. Along the way there were lots of amazing things to see. The ICW was incredible and I have posted about that in the past. After traveling down the ICW, you end up in Southern Florida, and one of the places we ended up staying was called No-Name Harbor. From there, we went East to the Bahamas.

Our boat, a 61-foot Bruce Roberts ketch, had a 7.5 foot draft, which made it a challenge to traverse the Bahama waters as there were many shallow places. We had been stuck several times on the ICW, but we had towing insurance there and it wasn’t an issue as we could call them if we got really stuck. Most of the time we simply waited for the tide and got unstuck ourselves.

As we traveled through the Bahamas, we came to a place called Andros Island Bay, where we were told there was a bar and a store and a good anchorage, out of the windy conditions we had been in for the previous nights. We headed over and tried to get into the inlet for the harbor. However, we misjudged the entrance and soon found outselves run aground on a sand bar right next to the entrance. Everything we tried to do to get out didn’t work.

I got on my snorkel and fins and got in the water to assess the situation. The boat had a full keel, so when it runs aground, it does a pretty good job. We tried pulling ourselves out with our dingy, but our motor was very small. We tried dragging the anchor to the side of the boat and using the winlass to pull us out, but that didn’t work, either. Finally we went into the harbor on the dingy and asked a really nice couple, Bill and Lori, on a boat called Sea Wolf, if they could use their more powerful dingy to try and pull us out. They came out and tried, but we were unsuccessful. We were really stuck. They informed us that it happens quite a bit and that the tide would probably help us get out.

While we waited for the tide, Bill and Lori took us on a guided tour of the inside of the small harbor. It had been quite damaged during the previous hurricane. There was room for us on the fuel dock, but getting out would have been a challenge if we had the wind to our stern, so we elected not to go in. Instead, there’s a big industrial dock that we tied up to for much wanted peaceful nights sleep after the last couple of nights in the wind. I did a lot of snorkeling while we waited as well, partly to monitor how bad we were stuck and partly because I love to be in the water.

After the tide came in, we did indeed get unstuck and we went over to the industrial dock and tied up there. It was dark by this time, so we just spent the evening preparing dinner and getting ready for bed. We were really looking forward to a peaceful nights sleep. And we did, until I heard my shipmate, Paul, yelling in the middle of the night.

“Matt, the cat has fallen overboard!”

I jump out of bed and Paul explains to me that one of the cats was trying to jump for land and fell short, falling into the water, about 8 feet below. Paul doesn’t really like swimming, so I jumped in to look for the cat. It had already paddled itself around to the far side of the boat, away from the dock, trying to find a safe passage somewhere. Luckily I found her as there were no safe places to go from her position.

I grabbed her by the harness and swam back to the ladder we had dropped, and Paul used the boat hook to grab her. I then climbed back up the ladder and went back to bed. Enough excitement for the night.

The next morning we got up and explored a bit along the dock. There were several boats that had been tied up there at one time, but one by one had sunk further into the water. Here are some pics of those. The water is beautiful and the boats, half-sunk, were almost surreal in this setting.

We also went and explored the rest of the island and looked for some groceries. It was a pleasant place to visit for sure.

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