Following Flight Risk

With Eric and Cathy Brinsfield

Journey to the Exuma, Bahamas 2019-2020

This photo journal documents the 5 1/2 month voyage of sailing vessel Flight Risk with owners Eric and Cathy Brinsfield to the Exuma chain of islands and cays in the Bahamas.  

We left Norfolk on October 26, 2019 to head south along the east coast of the US.  Traveling in short hops mostly offshore and sometimes in the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), we finally made it to the Miami area and crossed to the Bahamas on December 11, 2019.  This time included a drive back to Virginia Beach for Thanksgiving, so it took us over a month to cross over.  We did stop for several days in a few spots due to the attraction or the weather.   

To reach Bimini from Norfolk, we traveled a total of 1,039.5 nautical miles, 413 of which were in the ICW.  The rest were mostly in the ocean.  

We spent 90 days in the Bahamas and most of that time in the Exumas, exploring individual cays in the chain.    (Cays are pronounced "keys".)

We left the Bahamas on March 11, 2020, sailing from West End on Grand Bahama to West Palm Beach.  We pulled into our slip at Cobbs Marina in Norfolk on April 5, 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Our return trip up the coast took 26 days.  

We had a fantastic experience with lots of adventures and beautiful scenery with gracious and interesting people.  We also learned to appreciate relaxation.  Below, you can see the photos that I captured during the trip and the story of our journey .

Overall Trip Statistics

October 26, 2019 - April 5, 2020

In the chart to the left, you can see our track down the coast, around the Bahamas, and back up the coast.  Ignore the track to the west that looks like it goes close to Raleigh.  That is from our drive back to Virginia Beach for Thanksgiving.    

Nautical miles traveled is based on rhumb line track from point A to point B.  It does not account for any tacking.  

We burned through 423 gallons of diesel, but only used 55 gals while in the Exumas.  Some of that was consumed by the generator.  While in the Bahamas, we made water regularly and the watermaker ran off the generator power.  

Trip Considerations or Constraints

Our trip planning and timing were based on specific considerations and some constraints.  Specifically:


1.  We wanted to be home for Thanksgiving

2.  We did not have crew, so were sailing with just the two of us.  

3.  We are not as young as we used to be.

4.  Weather!  Weather!!  Weather!!!....  and wind. 

5.  Protected anchorages or harbors during major weather events.  

6.  We wanted to check into the Bahamas before January 1 to avoid the rate increase.  

7. This was our first trip to the Bahamas on our own boat.  


1.  We are morning people and do not like overnight trips or getting in after dark.  So we tried to limit our segments to day-trips.  If we did an overnight, we would plan to arrive in the morning.  Otherwise, for longer days, we would leave before dark so we could arrive in daylight.

2.  Cathy does not like the cold.  

Viewing this Journal

This page in the journal provides a high level chronological overview of the trip and serves as a directory for all other links.  For each stop along the way, you can click on the name to see more detail.  

Side Topics

Norfolk to Jacksonville Beach

Jacksonville Beach to Miami

Click on the links below to see details of each stop.  

WiFi speeds were pretty bad at most of the marinas, so I did get behind on my photo uploads. If blog entries do not have photos, check back later.    Also, I do plan to augment the discussions later this spring.  

Heading south through near Bahamas

Our goal was to spend the winter in the Exumas, which are part of the southern Bahamas.  To get there, we chose to cross over to Bimini from Florida and work our way south through Nassau.  This section of the journal shares our trip through Bimini, the Berry Islands, and Nassau, which is usually referred to as the "Near Bahamas". 

Miami through Nassau to the Exumas      

Below you can see the track from Miami to the Exumas.  We checked into the Bahamas in Bimini and entered the Exumas at Norman's Cay.  The statistics below refer to the trip from Norfolk to Norman's Cay.  The days in a marina were a bit high, because we left in October.  We ran into some cold nasty weather while still in the U.S.  

Untitled photo


The chart below is displayed to give anyone not familiar with the Exumas some perspective on where they are located in relation to the state of Florida.  Once we reached Normans Cay in the Exumas, we stayed in the Exumas and Long Island for about 68 days.  Most of our trips consisted of short sails and exploring individual cays in the chain.  

High-level view of Exumas Track


I am in the process of reformatting the web pages now that we are back home.

The Exumas link (below) is still in the streaming content where I added new entries to the top of the page.  They are still in reverse chronological order.  Gradually, each stop will have its own page.   In other words, that particular page does not look like any of the others.  

- Click on Exumas link below to see that streaming content on the Exumas.

- Click on the other links to go to individual pages that were built later.  

Heading North through the Near Bahamas to West Palm

Returning North along the East Coast of the US

WARNING:  The following links work but the pages are still empty.  Stand by.

Statistics From Shroud Cay, Exumas to Norfolk

Untitled photo

Recommendations to Future Travelers

Based on our experience, we have some recommendations or lessons learned to share with anyone planning to cruise in the Exumas.  Of course, these are from our perspective.  If you are younger or have crew, you may not find these apply to you.  

1.  Be sure to take a reliable dinghy and motor.  The dinghy is essentially your car when you are anchored.  If you need supplies or just want to enjoy nice dive spots, you need a dinghy that can take you several miles and a motor that will not break down.  

2.  If you can swing it, install a watermaker.  It is rare in the Exumas that you can pull up to a marina and fill your tanks.  Without a watermaker, you will be hauling jugs of water to your boat every other day (see #1) and also rationing your water.  We never had to do that.  

3.  Study the charts in advance and repeatedly.  Be sure you have the most recent Explorer charts along with your normal chart plotter charts.  I found Navionics to work just fine in spite of everyone else's warnings.  You will also want to get a copy of the cruising guides by Stephen J. Pavlidis.  They are a bit dated now, but still useful. 

4.  Be sure you have reliable ground tackle.  You will be anchor most of the time in very strong winds.  In the Bay, we worry about any wind and hide in creeks, but in the Exumas, you will be exposed to high winds and waves that you cannot avoid. 

5.  If you find a compatible boat, consider "buddy boating" with them into places you have never been or vice versa.  We did not do that except when we went to Long Island, so I definitely made some mistakes or missed some nice spots because I lacked confidence in what I read on the charts.              

Navigation Resources

• Navionics installed on: 

        - Raymarine Chart Plotter

        - iPad (with Active Captain and survey data)

• Explorer Chartbooks

• AquaMaps with Explorer Charts and USACE Surveys

• Stephen J. Pavlidis – Cruising Guides to the Exumas (multiple books)

• Active Captain

• Waterway Guides

- For the ICW, ICW & Atlantic Coast - Mile by Mile & Planning Guide from Chesapeake Bay Media

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