We had a good crossing and are back in the USA. We buddy-sailed with our good friend George on Heritage, and his crew Jeff. We had sailed from Man O’ War Cay to Green Turtle late last week. Then, on Sunday, April 14, we left for Great Sale Cay – about 10 hours. We started our trip westbound at 11:00 a.m. the next morning, to arrive on the Florida coast at daylight the following day. It was uneventful crossing – the best kind.
We left Green Turtle Sunday morning – to the raucous squawking of a flock of parrots! We motor-sailed, arriving at the northwest anchorage of Great Sale Cay about 4:00 p.m. A long day. I made dinner, but also apple/cheddar/chicken muffins and a cheesy potato/carrot stew for the crossing. We put the dinghy on deck, made sure everything was stowed securely, and checked the weather again. Winds were supposed to be SE in the morning at 12-15 and diminishing by late afternoon to 5-10 and clocking south.
Here is George’s boat at sunset, off Great Sale Cay. You can see Jeff on the foredeck – he flew down from Ontario to help George with the crossing.
At about 11:00 a.m. on Monday, April 15, we hoisted our sails, pulled our anchors, and sailed west. The wind held for most of our sail across the banks, but when we hit 4.5k, we started the engine and motor-sailed. A dolphin swam with us, off the bow, not long before sunset.
We left the banks just after dark. Our watches started at 8 pm: 8pm – 11:00 pm for me and George; and then 11:00 pm – 2:00 am for Goldwin and Jeff. I went on again at 2am for a two hour watch, with Goldwin relieving me at 4:00 am. By 6am, we were close enough to daylight and close enough to Florida that we were both up. I never slept during Goldwin’s first watch – mostly because it was VERY rolly and bouncy. But I was able to get a little sleep after 4am.
For safety, Goldwin had rigged jack lines – ropes tied on the boat that go from the cockpit forward – and we wore life jackets and harnesses. If we left the cockpit, we had to be hooked onto the jack line. We had our navigational systems up and running, and extra life jackets, flash lights, a winch handle, a paper chart, and snacks in the cockpit, at the ready. There were other boats in the area also transiting and all the boats talked on the radio as the night wore on. One concern were storms predicted and observed in the area. We could see lightning behind us, but none of the storms ever got close to us.
Our automatic pilot did most of the steering. It hooks onto the tiller and is able to steer the boat on a compass course. Very handy. Some of them are integrated into the boat’s navigational system and chart plotter, but not ours.
It works quite well, but every once in a while, it goes “walkabout” and then you have to convince it to steer your compass point again.
For most of the night, we could see stars, a sliver of a moon, and the loom of Florida ahead of us. The Gulf Stream was VERY rolly, but after we’d crossed the Stream, the ocean gradually smoothed out and by the time we arrived at the Ft. Pierce entrance, it was fairly calm, which made the entrance easy. We anchored briefly to clear customs over the phone and continued on to the Vero Beach City Marina for some much needed rest. We were truly exhausted.
Here is a video of our crossing. What it leaves out is the long, bumpy ride through the night. Hard to get a good picture of waves you can’t see in the dark.
All in all, it was a good crossing. A boat that left some hours after us reported very difficult seas. I wouldn’t characterize ours that way – just very lumpy. As sad as we were to leave the Bahamas, we are glad to have that part of the trip behind us.
PS I just booked a flight to CA to visit our daughter and will be back in FL next Thursday to continue our trip northward. Goldwin will probably stay on the boat. Motu Iti is here on a mooring, quite inexpensively, and the marina has showers and laundry. There is a free bus to many local stores and the beach is a short walk away. Very nice.