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You probably thought we were already in the Bahamas.  Nope.  We are still at a mooring in the Vero Beach Municipal Marina waiting for weather to cross the Gulfstream.  Rats.  We are REALLY impatient. 

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(You can see our solar panels sticking up on the back of the boat – more about them in a later post.)

Being here at a mooring is not all bad.  There are lot of gorgeous boats.   They say the marinas in Florida are 20-30% busier than they have been in years.

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It’s a short walk to the beach.

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And we get nice sunsets.

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I won’t lie – it’s been a bit cold given that we’re in Florida.  But the sun is out most days now and it’s pretty nice.

While we wait, we prepare for our “hop” to the Bahamas.  Here’s the trip:  ten hours across the Gulfstream until we’re on the “banks,” i.e., the shallower water that surrounds so much of the Bahamas.  (The white coral sand underneath gives this water it’s striking blue/green color.)  Keep going for another ten hours to a place we can anchor and get some sleep if the wind is not blowing from the wrong direction.  And then another ten hours to where we can check into Customs and get fuel, food, etc.  We need two days of winds in the 10-15-20 range, preferably at the lower end as we are pretty wimpy, I mean, safe. And we don’t want any wind from the north because it makes the Gulfstream pretty treacherous.  One prediction is that there will be no such weather window for another three weeks as the fronts are coming off the Carolinas and splitting into a series of energy impulses.  Sixty mph winds are predicted off Hatteras mid-week.  Ugh.

Here’s the preparation:  Check that all our systems are functioning; fill the water and diesel tanks; fill the dinghy gas tank with the gas/oil mixture it needs; make sure all our safety gear is working and at hand (we replaced an expired fire extinguisher today); rig the jack lines that we hook ourselves onto when we are on deck; make sure everything on and in the boat is secure so it won’t be tumbling around; make sure our GPS/computer navigation system is working (and that we remember how to operate it); do the laundry; buy food.  Check, check, check, check, check and check.  We still need to rig the jack lines, secure the contents of the boat and re-visit the computer navigation system.

And, we drove down to West Palm and picked up our six-person Winslow liferaft.  (Why a six-person liferaft – are we expecting company?  It’s complicated, says Goldwin.)  While we were in Green Cove Springs, Goldwin drove it over to be re-packed and re-certified – sort of like packing a parachute, except a LOT more expensive (and there are only a handful of places that re-pack Winslows).  They put a bunch of useful stuff in it which I hope we never need:  water, food, flares, first aid kit, sunscreen towels, flashlight, sea dye marker.  When it’s done, it looks like this:

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Its dimensions are 10.5”x16”x21”.  The size is critical because this particular liferaft, when properly packed, fits perfectly (just barely) into our aft lazarette, i.e., storage locker.  And it fit – yeah!  It didn’t quite fit before it was re-packed.

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We’ll hang on every word of tomorrow’s weather predictions and hope for a weather window the end of this week.  We like to wait in Vero because it’s well-protected and we have easy access to wi-fi, mail, showers, groceries, laundry, etc.  But it’s a two day trip down the Waterway to West Palm, which is our departure point; once we leave here to stage for the crossing, we hope it stays a “go.”

Fingers crossed.  The trick is to not be so eager that you’re emboldened about what you can handle and you’re willing to go in more marginal weather.  It’s hard to stay when you want to go so bad.  We’ll try to be careful. 

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