Ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go right? An unmitigated disaster from the start. Of course you have. We all have. The sooner you can wipe the cat vomit off your feet and head back to bed to wait it out, the better.

But what about a perfect day? One that goes better than planned, where rainbows and unicorns leave happy surprises around every corner. Those tend to be a little less common, particularly if paired with actual unicorn sightings. Nevertheless, they are endlessly more welcome and not soon forgotten.

I’ve been thinking about our perfect day in the Bahamas since the morning we returned our sailboat back to Navtours at the Palm Cay Marina. What exactly have I been thinking about? Looking back, here’s what made it great.

The Bahamas. Duh.

Ok, obviously. Ingredient number one to achieving a perfect day is to be in a perfect location. The blue water, sunny skies, and endless potential for exploration make the Bahamas an ideal stage for an unforgettable day. Even if conditions weren’t exactly right, it would be tough to have a bad day in this beautiful place.

A Stellar Plan

“Proper preparation prevents poor performance.” My friend and master planner Lindsay shared this nugget of knowledge when she orchestrated a flawless and fun Ragnar race a few years ago. She is not wrong and I never forgot her wisdom. When you know where you are going, it is easier to get there. Our last day in the Bahamas was carefully plotted, mostly because we had such a long way to go and wanted to get some fishing in as well. Our plan? First, get an early start. Then, sail to the northeast side of Rose Island before going around the island into deeper water and better fishing. The final piece of our sail plan was to chart a course around the west end of the island and into West Bottom Harbour to anchor for the night. In all, a little over 40 nautical miles. How’d it go? Exactly as planned.

Perfect Wind and Weather

The weather and wind conditions were entirely up to Mother Nature, so we were thrilled when it was even better than we’d hoped for. Our departure from Allens Cay heading to Rose Island had us in 12 to 17 knots of wind on a beam reach the whole way, the entire 30 nautical miles. It was a dream. One thing I learned in ASA 114 class is that while a beam reach is not necessarily optimal for a monohull, this is a perfect point of sail for a catamaran. We cruised along with the ocean essentially to ourselves, only furling the jib and turned the engines on to navigate through Middle Ground. Middle Ground, similar to Yellow Bank which we encountered when we sailed from the marina to Highborne Cay, is a shallow area with many coral heads you need to navigate around. It isn’t hard to see them in the daytime as they show up as black spots in the blue water, but we wanted to make sure we had as much control as possible going through this area. In our chart briefing, Ted from Navtours recommended we put spotters at the front of the boat to help point them out, so my dad and I headed to the bow and did just that for about two nautical miles. Once safely through, we turned off the engines, unfurled the jib, picked up speed, and cruised all the way to Rose Island where we took down our sails and commenced fishing.

A Fish! Finally!

It worked! Our plan worked! We’d been searching for fish since we started our journey and had only caught a small fish that, truth be told, sort of caught himself, and a shark that we fortunately were able to let go without too much trauma. But while my dad is an expert fly fisherman and I’d put him toe-to-toe with anyone angling for trout on the rivers of Western North Carolina, we were total rookies on the ocean with our poles, bait, and limited Intel we’d been able to glean from the locals. That Intel is what sent us around to the north side of Rose Island. My father had spoken to some men at the marina and they’d identified that area as a good spot. About 10 minutes after taking down our sails we had a bite! My dad and I didn’t believe it at first as Charles started reeling in, but sure enough, he had a fish. A big fish! A flurry of activity had Charles handing off to my dad as he gathered gloves and other necessary items to help pull our catch – which we could see by this point had some pretty significant teeth – into the boat. I stopped the engines and took the role as staff photographer. Once we had what we think was a mackerel on board, my dad expertly handled the cleaning, scaling, and fish preparation. We were grateful for success and for dinner.

My Guys

Every single day I feel like I won the relationship Karma lottery by getting paired up with my husband. He is patient, he is kind, he cooks for me, he has talked me off the figurative ledge of anxiety that comes with constantly overextending myself more times than I can count. And the man doesn’t age. He is 52 and you would never know it. A veritable Dick Clark of his fire organization. Sailing with my husband is hands down my favorite thing. The only thing that could possibly make it better is adding my father to the mix, and that’s what I had with this trip and this day. As you get older, your relationship with your parents of course changes. Your appreciation deepens, and your understanding that nothing but memories last forever so you want to fill up that memory bucket as fast as you can to make up for your shortsighted failure to do so all those years ago. The first four items on this list made the day really good, but sailing with my husband and sharing that experience with my dad was 100% what made the day perfect.

As we rounded the West side of Rose Island the wind picked up. We could see the Atlantis Resort in the distance and when we pulled into West Bottom Harbor around 4 pm, we found a few other boats also settling in for the night. We anchored, Charles expertly cooked our delicious fresh fish, and we drank two bottles of wine while we watched the sun set over Atlantis with a neighboring monohull silhouetted in the distance.

It doesn’t get better than that.






Lea Maxwell

Lea Maxwell is the sailor and scribe behind Escape Under Sail, a web|blog project that connects new and future charter sailors with the resources, information, and motivation they need to competently and confidently sail beautiful destinations around the world.

Web: escapeundersail  |   Instagram: @escape_under_sail   |   Facebook: www.facebook.com/escapeundersail/

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