Got Handholds? Bahamas Tongue of the Ocean Crossing

Unfortunately for us sailors, not all crossings are smooth!  Underway, if your boat lurchs suddenly while you’re walking through the salon, would you:

A.  Be thrown across the cabin, breaking a rib.

B.  Grab for the closest point of contact, missing and get a nasty bruise

C.  No problem, our boat has sturdy handholds for every step.

Adequate sturdy handholds within an arm’s reach for the entire walk through belowdecks are so critical to safety, but yet there are so many boats constructed with inadequate handholds.  Take a few minutes and walk through belowdecks switching from handhold to handhold – do you have adequate coverage every step of the way?  If not, you may want to re-engineer or retrofit some handholds before you leave to go cruising.


Looking through the cabin, you can see handholds above the settee – looks like a teak rail below the window, also on the wet locker, galley, beside all the doors and best of all – to wedge myself into the V shaped head underway!

We were lucky, Winterlude has handholds for every step — and during our Tongue of the Ocean crossing (the west end of New Providence/Nassau to the Northwest Channel Light  — approximately 42 miles — they saved me from many nasty bruises and maybe a broken rib!

It was a beautiful day, the wind had finally moderated from 20-25+ to 10-15 on the starboard stern quarter and we were looking forward to a great day of sailing.  Unfortunately, as we made our way off into the inky blue depths of the Tongue of the Ocean (where the depths suddenly go from 15 feet to literally miles deep and the sailing is wide open to the Atlantic Ocean fetch), the wind lightened up and soon we had left over waves tossing our little boat around like a cork in the big big ocean.    We had a severe case of the rocky-rollies until we got a bit of protection from the Berry Islands.  These HUGE waves have been rolling all the way from Europe to roll our little home literally from rail to rail in multiple sequences making life aboard a matter of HANG ON!  Find a secure seat, and brace yourself for the next set.

So the oven’s flying open and I can’t quickly locate the bungee I usually use … so given the lurching going on below, the first piece of line I can grab will do the trick! If you store pans in your oven, make sure the oven door is secured or you risk the door flying open and the pots and pans unexpectedly attacking you! Ask me how I know! 🙂

As we exited the Tongue of the Ocean onto the Great Bahamas Banks, the mile deep inky waters once again change to 15 feet and the churned up swells and waves bang against the underwater mountain creating uncomfortable, although by no means dangerous rocky rollies temporarily until they smoothed out across the banks.  The sail was spectacular – a full moon made it almost daylight and we had our GPS track from the previous banks transit.  So we wedged ourselves in and passed the time watching the moonlight dance on the water.  Plus BOTH depthsounders were working temporarily so life was good!

Red Sky at Night… Sailors Delight AND a full moon banks crossing … does it get better? 🙂

So how are your handholds?  Any innovative ideas to add secure handholds? All boats can use more handholds … at least underway!  Leave a comment and let us know!   Cheers!  Jan



  1. Ya gotta have’m, ya gotta have’m, you gotta have’m.
    One hand for you, one hand for the boat. When it gets bad, don’t forget to do the spider impression. Yea, kinda puts a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘the boat beat me up’. Racers aren’t kidding when they say that. I’ve had several jammed fingers, lots of aches and pains, and even a bloody lip, all from being thrown around. Gettem, and use’m

Speak Your Mind