Monday, December 29, 2014

Preparations for a Crossing to the Bahamas

The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse festively
decorated for Christmas. Just one of
the sights along the way to Lake Worth, Florida.
     It's 6:30 AM. Joe is making coffee. The crackling sound of the SSB radio being tuned is filtering into the aft cabin where I'm attempting to waken and disentangle the previous night's cobwebs in order to decipher Chris Parker's Marine Weather Center live broadcast for our upcoming crossing to the Bahamas. Cold front approaching in Beaufort...trough off Florida, upcoming possible crossing opportunities and...a deep sleep ensues. Once again Chris's mesmerizing radio intonation, a sure knockout drug has taken hold. When I finally "woke up and smelled the coffee" the broadcast was over. By that time Joe had written notes from the broadcast and made plans for our day.


     







Canned goods and other provisions stacked
three deep in storage compartments.
     Bahama crossings aboard sailboats require considerable advanced planning for provisions, spare parts, weather and sea state conditions. While spending time in Vero Beach we were afforded free public transportation in the form of mini buses from our mooring at the city marina for provisioning. Public transportation in Vero is excellent with stops at the beach, West Marine, Publix Supermarket, Fresh Market, ABC Liquors and with only one transfer, a stop at Walmart! The moniker for Vero Beach is Velcro Beach...for obvious reasons. Cruisers tend to stay awhile and it's tough to break free.


 

      Bus transportation was well used by us and everyone else at the City Marina. While riding the bus topics of conversations centered on "When do you plan to cross? Along with "Where do you plan to cross from?" running a close second. It seemed while we were all busy with one project or another everyone was preparing. Repairs, provisioning, washing clothes, jobs were being accomplished with one goal in mind. Crossing over to the Bahamas.

     One problem with advanced planning is that the weather window doesn't always materialize on time. Boats end up spending days or weeks waiting for the best crossing using up precious provisioning! This tends to be an issue on boats such as ours in the 40 foot range. The boat has great storage, but not as much as larger boats that have even more storage capacity. So, when it's time to provision for the Bahamas it has to be done a day or two prior to departure.

     So, here we sit at anchor in Lake Worth, Florida. Before dawn at 5:00 AM this morning the anchor was raised and Simple Life headed out Lake Worth Inlet in darkness bound for West End, Grand Bahama Island. At seven miles out with 15-17 knot wind on the nose, the seas built to a steep chop. It was ugly. The boat was motoring against the wind, seas and Gulf Stream at 3.2 knots. After consulting with Chris Parker via SSB it was clear that we needed return to port. Conditions were not expected to improve.

     No one likes to backtrack. Although, sometimes it's the best decision. Today was one of those times. Simple Life is back at anchor in Lake Worth. The wind has been building all morning. In fact it's howling! I'm grateful we returned. As of now it's uncertain when we'll cross. Winds are forecast to subside tonight with light and variable winds tomorrow. We may cross or we may head south to Fort Lauderdale to stage for an upcoming crossing from Miami. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

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