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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Ocean Prairie Skygazing


cruising great bahama bank
At dusk, it was calm enough on the Great Bahama Bank to anchor overnight.
We felt lucky to enjoy this rare treat.
Stopping at a random midpoint for an overnight anchor along the Great Bahama Bank is akin to pitching a tent alongside a lonely two-lane highway passing across a gargantuan stretch of prairie, far, far from civilization.

What makes the Great Bahama Bank so awesome?  It's a 330 mile arc between Southeast Florida, Bahamas Andros Island then extending down to Cuba that's mostly only 10' deep. Imagine vast shallow stretches with nothing across most of it but vibrantly clear water.  At its edge is a steep cliff, one of the the deepest parts of the Atlantic, Tongue of the Ocean, which ranges from 3,600 feet to 6,600 feet.  We anchored on the Banks with 30 miles from ANYTHING.

“Didn’t expect we’d be lake sailing today,” quipped Ptarmigan and First Light, over the VHF, cruisers buddy-boating past us on their overnight passage.  It was that calm.

We understand it’s not normal for conditions calm enough to anchor here, and for that we feel incredibly grateful we were able to do so. 

wayne seitz dana greyson cruising the bahamas on our sailboat

Red of face, white of body, candy-cane Wayne takes a selfie
along the Great Bahama Bank.  We haven’t shown the sun
much skin of late.  Consider this our “before” photo
for the cruising season.
A little later, as darkness settled in, we laid on our foredeck, holding hands while we gazed upward, taking in the universe’s glorious celestial show.  The Milky Way!  It’s been a long time we’ve seen a night sky clear enough, the moon slender enough, and the light pollution faint enough to see its mystical blanket of starry white. 

As dirt dwellers, one of our favorite backpacking activities was to find a large rock in the middle of an alpine wilderness stream, and lay on it long enough for our night vision to adjust itself for good stargazing.  Maybe it’s a little less crisp down here at sea level, but we’re happy to report it’s still every bit as awesome here the tropics.  

Ahhhh.  If you need a little inspiration to do some stargazing yourself, consider starting off with The Church's 

passage making great bank bahamas between bimini and berry islands
Yet another of the lovely “thousand sunsets” Wayne promised me
when we decided to go cruising.  Thank you, Wayne.
"Under the Milky Way
Sometimes when this place gets kind of empty
Sound of their breath fades with the light
I think about the loveless fascination
Under the milky way tonight
Lower the curtain down in Memphis
Lower the curtain down all right
I got no time for private consultation
Under the milky way tonight
I wish I knew what you were looking for
I might have known what you would find
And it's something quite peculiar
Something that shimmering and white
Leads you here despite your destination
Under the milky way tonight
Under the milky way tonight
passage making cruising bahamas
Sailing!  We’re sailing!  On the Great Bahama Bank,
from Bimini to the Berry Islands.

I wish I knew what you were looking for
I might have known what you would find
I wish I knew what you were looking for
I might have known what you would find
Under the milky way tonight
Under the milky way tonight
I wish I knew what you were looking for
I might have known what you would find
I wish I knew what you were looking for
I might have known what you would find
(Milky way tonight)
Under the milky way tonight
Under the milky way tonight
Under the milky way tonight
Under the milky way tonight
SONGWRITERS
JANSSON, KARIN GUNILLA / KILBEY, STEVEN JOHN
http://lyrics.wikia.com/The_Church:Under_The_Milky_Way
Location, Location
Feb 2, 2014. BAHAMAS. We're  in Nassau. Got tell-tales added to our sail, picked up a few parts, did a little boat maintenance, and provisioning.  Next stop:  Palm Cay Marina, Nassau,(N25.01.129 W77.16.277) for some dinghy work, then Exumas (probably Highborn Cay), likely leaving later this week.