Thursday, February 28, 2013

Crossing the Gulf Stream - The Start of Our Fantastic Voyage

Leaving Miami was a bit hard when we both realized this would be the last time we could easily phone our family. So the evening passed with a multitude of calls to all our children and family and some friends – and a few tears from both of us. Sorry we couldn’t call all of you – but time did not permit – and we were very emotional after talking to our children and sisters, etc. I guess that’s part of the adventure- not knowing what the future holds – good – bad or what….. But just letting it all unfold.

When we reach Nassau we will probably buy a sim card to enable us to call from the Bahamas – then…When we get to Puerto Rico and the USVI we can again use my $2/day GO Phone plan from AT&T. There will be times when there will be no communication from us – and I didn’t realize how hard that would be. It’s just automatic to pick up the phone and call those we love, when the mood hits.

We got off at the planned 4am start, when Miami was sill dark and awash with the neon lights glowing from all the skyscrapers. We motored to Government Cut – past the cruise ship dock and followed the channel and all the beacons out to sea! It was thrilling and scary in the dark of night and I was so aware of every moment. The sea in the channel was lumpy and bumpy with swells up to 5 feet and I imagined– because we had a pretty good “weather window” - that as soon as we got to the Gulf Stream it would all smooth out – HA!

No – the winds were a little stronger than predicted and coming from SE – which is pretty good – but the whole trip was pretty lumpy – it never really “settled down” like I imagined it would. At first I was scared. We had to hold on constantly – but as daylight arrived, it was less frightening being able to see the waves and swells. Of course, Captain MacGyver was fine – he’s used to all this – but it’s still a hazing period for me! I’ll tell you one thing – If I don’t lose weight it will be amazing – because I’m no longer a 3-meal-a-day person! I can do galley in calm and mid- rough – but these swells – no way! Crackers anyone?!

We motored all morning and around 12 noon we caught sight of Bimini! The water was deep sapphire blue and so clear and then soon changed to a neon turquoise! We decided to pass Bimini and proceed to Chub Cay (still pronounced “key”) for immigration and customs. Per procedure we raised our yellow Q (quarantine) flag indicating that we were law abiding foreigners. Then we proceeded to the Bahamas Banks where we hung the hook in the middle of nowhere! When Cap Richard said we would anchor on the banks – I definitely did not ask enough questions! I imagined 8ft of water and some sandy beaches cropping up. There were no sandy beaches- 20 ft of water- and the wind was at 20-25 knots causing huge rolling waves to crash on our hull, making our little trawler rock and roll all night long. There was slamming noises coming from the fly bridge every 5th wave or so- and I thought our dinghy was loose! But it turned out to be the gas tank in the dinghy making all that noise. Every time a huge wave hit us I’d hear clinking of my glasses and dishes – but nothing broke. It was impossible for me to sleep and even Cap was over it. Many people before us have anchored on the Bahamas Banks without a problem – we just go the crappy night! So around 1:30 AM we hauled anchor and proceeded to Chub Key. It didn’t matter that we were traveling at night – because we were soon in 6000 feet deep water!

Chub Cay had an open, easy anchorage – but because of the winds – it was a bit rough. One other sailboat was anchored there, and they were rocking and rolling. Since we’d had a bad night’s sleep – we decided to stay in the Chub Cay Club Marina and get some much needed rest. Cha-Ching$$!.....

At Chub Cay Marina, a cute very young boy – named Kellly -with that neat Island lilt and dreadlocks piled on top of his head and wrapped in a big white scarf – met us at the dock to help with the lines.

 After we had the boat secured, Cap (“Master” of the ship) went to the Immigration and customs office to check in. Customs regulations state ONLY the “Master” of the ship is permitted to disembark for this ritual, so I washed the windows and cleaned the salt off our stainless, waiting for him to return.  He came back with loads of papers and news that the entire island was bankrupt! So sad for them…i t was a really pretty place, too. The marina was very new and quite beautiful and loaded with really large expensive (Millions of dollars) fishing yachts. We docked next to a 130 foot Broward with a crew of 3 and the owner was out fishing on ONE of his dinghies – a 38foot Invincible fishing boat – with 2 crew on that and a fortune in fishing rods!

After we cleared customs, we lowered the yellow “Q” flag – and raised the Bahamas flag! Then it became real - WE’RE REALLY DOING IT! We were both so excited with the accomplishment of crossing the deep and often treacherous Gulf Stream and actually arriving to a land we had dreamed of going to for years– under our own power!

We did some boat chores and then walked around the island. It was small – but really pretty, and it was sad that the whole island was in receivership. We had our dock space until 12 the next day – but all through the day and night the electric and internet kept going off. The crew on the Mega-Yacht said it was normal - that’s what happens. But in the morning we woke to find our batteries were near dead, as our inverter must have had to work overtime. Cap was worried they may not take a charge – they’re old – like much on this boat – and thinking if we needed replacing them – we’d be better off in Nassau. So we cast off the dock lines and headed towards the 10,000 feet deep “The Tongue of the Ocean” and for Nassau!

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