That little Bahamas flag flying in the spreaders means we are officially cleared to cruise the Bahamas! Who would have thought hoisting that would have such significance?
While the weather window that we thought we would have, did not materialize – again (added more toilet paper to the boat); one did finally materialize. I would not call this a bay window, I’m not sure I would call it a double hung window, but perhaps a small basement window large enough for a child to crawl through type of window. We left Fort Lauderdale last Thursday, and made the 6 hour trip south to Miami. The trick is to get as far south as possible so you’re not fighting the northward flow of the Gulf Stream at 3 kts (more on that to come). The trip south was sunny and beautiful, although a little slow with the wind and waves on the nose. We entered government cut made a quick left and tucked in behind Fisher Island for a few hours to have some dinner and rest… we planned to leave at 2AM to take advantage of an expected favorable wind shift (more on that later).
Savy enjoying passage south in her normal style – napping in the cockpit, in her undies
Being from NJ, we’re spoiled with a great NYC skyline, but Miami was beautiful. Of course it doesn’t come through in the picture, but it was a great sight to see before departing for the Bahamas
We departed on time at 2 am, and headed out into black ocean – short of flashing red and green lights marking the channel. We are very spoiled with GPS and charplotters these days – they add a bit of confidence that the dim, low to the horizon, flashing green light that flashes every 3 seconds is the one we should keep to starboard, even though there is another brighter and higher (meaning it looks much closer) flashing green light to port which marks a dogleg in the channel further out. It is always exhilarating departing at night.
Unfortunately, that favorable wind shift did not come as predicted, we headed south to try to make some progress before getting flushed north by the Gulf Stream, but it was very slow going and the wind and waves were on the nose and choppy – lots of pounding. The boat can surely take it, but the crew… well if there is another way, it would be a little more enjoyable. By the time the sun came up, we had had enough of the pounding and fighting the Stream, so we turned north, rolled out the sail and had a great trip. Making that decision, we had to get comfortable that we were going to miss Bimini and head north to Grand Bahama, but at that point, we were making 2 knots of forward progress, being pounded by the waves and being flushed 3 knots north – nature won, as she always does. The good thing is that the predicted wind shift did eventually come, and we we able to get out of the Gulf Stream faster, so we were able to, ever so slowly, turn south a degree or two at a time with our final heading at the entrance to Bimini.
This was our course… green is slow and orange/red is fast. Where you see the orange in the middle is where we made the turn north – you can see if you draw a straight line, here was no way we were going to make Bimini without that wind shift. I guess we owe the wind gods one ; )
Natalie stayed at the helm with Chris calling out the big waves once we started sailing so Mom and Savy were ready. We think she should be ready to take a watch on our trip north : )
We’re entering Bahamian waters, time to hoist the ‘Q’ flag to let everyone know that we have not cleared customs and immigration yet… once that’s done, the ‘Q’ flag comes down and the Bahamas courtesy flag goes up.
Our time in Bimini (actually South Bimini – there is a ‘ferry’ that connects to the two) has been relaxing. That tiny weather window I mentioned, meant that as soon as we got here, the wind started blowing and the temperature started dropping. The local Bahamians are freezing – ski jackets, gloves and hats… for us, it is just way too cold to be in the Bahamas. If you ask locals, it is the coldest it has been in 8 years… if you ask cruisers that do this every year, they say they’ve never had such a cold and windy trip – that’s because we’re doing it this year : )
Friends keeping warm during sundowners!!!
As we started exploring, we found the Shark Lab… Natalie can cover the specifics, but all I can say is where was this place when I was in college looking for internships? Basically, there are a few full time staff, a few PhD candidates working on their dissertations, and a bunch of interns that are supporting all the research. It was impressive to see the work and their intellect, but man – where were these internships for Physical Therapy and Business students?
The Intermezzo and Liberator III crews at the Shark Lab.
While we did not make it to the Bahamas for Junkanoo, Chris had his own parade down Queen’s Highway.
We hope everyone is doing well and staying warm – miss you all!