The missing element of the last few days, the sun, has finally returned to brighten our days and help us put everything back together and get ready for offshore. It is unseasonably cold, though. Feels like snow. Perhaps that is added incentive to work hard now to get ready for the offshore trip to the Bahamas.

The main thing is, we are safe and sound, and the boat sustained no damage from Frankinstorm Sandy.

Morgan Railroad Lift Bridge near Lockwoods Boat Works – post-hurricane

We are immensely thankful to have made it here to Hampton, out of harm’s way. Steve’s sister Maggie, who lives on Staten Island, is still without power. They have no public transit, no ferries running, no gas at the gas stations and food shortages. She tells us that the nice quiet ‘pond’ at Great Kills Harbour where we spent almost a week recently, is unrecognizable. The Delmarva coast that we travelled along on our way here sustained widespread damage and flooding. The lift bridge we passed under when we left Lockwoods Boat Works (featured a few blogs ago) was totally wrecked. We would have been trapped if we were still there. We were relatively sheltered here, so despite a very wet, windy and uncomfortable few days, we consider ourselves lucky.

Now we are in a mad rush, preparing for our offshore leg with ARC Bahamas. This will take us 900 miles offshore on a direct route to the Abacos, rather than the more typical way cruisers go – which is down the ‘ditch’ or the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) to southern Florida. We are part of the Caribbean 1500 rally, which has two fleets – about 40 boats going 1500 nautical miles to Tortola in the British Virgin Island, and just 6 boats going with Arc Bahamas to Green Turtle Cay.

Provisioning – vacuum-packed freezer stuff

We are busy provisioning, attending seminars, getting the boat back together, fixing rigging etc. We had our safely inspection, and have a few little things to do to pass our final inspection – like tying lanyards on buckets, attaching the liferaft painter onto the boat, tying a knife in the cockpit, and tightening our lifelines.

We are members of the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) and today the very kind SSCA Hampton station host took me to a fantastic Amish farm market store where I did the bulk of our provisioning. We have been advised to take as much stuff as our boat will hold as prices of most things are double in the Bahamas. So our waterline is a few inches lower today.

Provisioning – fresh produce

Our crew has arrived to help out with the last-minute preparations. Our friend Paul arrived on Wednesday night from Calgary, and Richard Knorr arrived today from Chicago. Richard is a very experienced sailor and a racer, so he is a huge asset to us for the offshore passage.

Provisioning – snacks!

Today we will be attending a seminars on Communication and SSB, Handling Emergencies at Sea, and a safety demonstration where they will inflate a life raft in the hotel swimming pool, and set off flares. We will have our crew orientation and checklist for abandon ship and man overboard procedures this afternoon, and then attend a farewell dinner tonight at the Hampton Yacht Club.

Dinner with other rally participants at a local restaurant

That leaves Saturday for all our last-minute preparations. I will be cooking and preparing meals for when we are underway. The guys will be taking care of rigging inspections, including climbing the mast, strapping the dinghy to the foredeck and other last-minute tasks. I have now purchased all the supplies I need for fishing from the boat – trolling offshore – so am hoping to catch some mahi mahi or tuna to supplement our food underway.

We are both excited and anxious to be embarking on this leg of the trip. The weather looks favourable for our start at noon on Sunday. We hope we have continued favourable winds, but we know we are not crossing a mill-pond and are prepared for some uncomfortable seas during the 6 to 8 day passage. We just hope nothing else breaks…. we are adventurous but no longer thrill seekers!