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"The Great Bahama Cruise"

The following article was written by the crew that sailed the Kennex 380 "Hummingbird" along with captain and owner, Bob Hunt

The sun was shining brightly as our 38-foot catamaran cleared the l7th Street drawbridge and headed for the islands on the other side of the Gulf Stream.

The captain was aboard when we arrived at 9:00 a.m. After driving all night to make our departure time, we were tired. Although the three of us had taken turns driving to Ft. Lauderdale from Virginia, the all-nighter had wom us out. Our captain, Bob Hunt on the other hand was well rested and probably as excited as anyone since this was his new boat and be wanted to see what she would do and how well she would perform. Our crew consisted of Lee Morris, Mike Gallagher and myself. All of us had many years of monohull experience, but this was the first cat for any of us.

By 10:30 a.m. the baggage was stowed, the dinghy lashed to the foreward netting and we were underway. The Gulf Stream confused as the winds were out of the riorth-riorthwest~ but the winds were light, blowing 10 to 15 so it was not long before the cruising spinnaker was put up and we saw speeds up to 10.3 knots. This was exciting, not only for the speed we were able to sustain, but also the fact that we were sailing without any heel!

Before dark we pulled down the spinnaker and put up the jib as we would be sailing through the night and did not want to make a sad change after dark. We did an hour on deck then an hour on the helm. and then had two hours to get rested before we started the cycle all over again.

We passed North Rock just north of Bimini and changed our course for Chub Cay. The seas stayed about the same for the night, however, the winds increased to 25 knots. The cat took it in stride, continuing to beat into the dark of the Bahama Banks.

Sunday was a lay day and one much needed, especially by the crew. It had been 48 hours since we had a full night of sleep and we were ready. Besides napping, the day was spent exploring the waters around the island and doing some diving. Monday we had a full breakfast of ham, cheese omelets, and toast and then headed off to what at first was to be a short sail to Whale Cay. Instead, we found ourselves in 10 to 12 foot seas with apparent winds of between 30 to 40 knots. The boat, however, was handling it with ease, so we decided to head for Nassau even though it meant tacking the entire way. Although we saw land at about 3:00 pm., what we thought would be an eight hour sail turned into a marathon with us clearing the entrance to Nassau harbor about 10:30 p.m.

After a couple days filled with shopping, eating, diving, spear fishing and meeting up with old friends, we gotunderway Thursday at 10:30 a.m. out of Nassau and headed for Gun Cay. Once again the seas were seven feet or so but the winds were on our beam and we were making very good time once again. Our trip to Gun Cay took about fourteen hours during which we passed many a monohull going the same direction. The cat was definitely comfortable. We were making passages that I would have thought twice about had we been sailing a monohull. As a matter of fact; I was able to prepare a full steak dinner while underway on this leg of the trip with tossed salad and the works.

Friday we motored over to a nearby wreck and the captain and Lee, both who had wet suits, explored the wreck After the divers were back on board, we ate lunch and headed for North Bimini which was just five miles to our north- We arrived in harbor at about 2:30 p.m. and secured the boat to the dock at one of the local marinas. We talked with other sailors who were waiting here for the weather to break so that they could cross the Gulf Stream. Some had been waiting a week. Severe weather conditions in the North were causing winds out of the northeast and high seas. This was a concern to us because three of us had to be back to work Monday morning, which meant we had to cross on Saturday so that Sunday could be used for the fifteen hour drive back to Virginia.

So as not to worry too much we found a restaurant that served conch fritters and munched out on eight a piece while washing them down with Kalick, the Bahamian beer. At 6:30 p.m. we enjoyed our last cocktail hour in the islands and contemplated Saturday's weather. After some lively music at the Perfect Angler, we bit the racks at about 11: 3 0 p.m. in preparation for a 6:00 am. departure. Our thought was to give it a try, and if it was too rough, to return to Bimini where we would just have to wait it out.

We cleared Bimini at 7: 00 am. and headed for Ft. Lauderdale. A double reef main and head sail flying the boat Picked up speed and headed for the 12-foot seas of the Gulf Stream The winds were at 25 knots and the seas once again confused, but the cat provided a level platform and with helm shifts every half hour, the crew was relaxed about the crossing. We crossed the stream in 5 hours and 50 minutes!

I never gave much thought to catamarans before. I've always been into "salty" boats. I must confess though, I am a convert. The space in the 38 feet gave each of us our own cabin with two men sharing one of the heads. The saloon would have easily sat twelve for dinner and was a comfortable place to relax between watches since it provided 360 degree visibility. All in all this boat was built for such exertions. Fast, comfortable and forgiving. We were sad to leave, but happy for the opportunity to have spent a week on the "Hummingbird. "



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