Sunday, January 3, 2016

Timing is Everything

Headed out for the deep blue ocean. Crossing the Gulf Stream
on January 1, 2016
    The alarm rang at 6:30 Thursday morning. It's one of those windey non electric kinds that scares the crap out of you when it rings. It was still dark and its aggravating discordance permeated the cabin. Knowing it would eventually stop ringing gave me solace. Joe was already up and out of bed. From the aft cabin I could hear the clangorous sounds of the assembly of the stovetop percolator clinking against the galley sink. A somewhat familiar and comforting sound knowing Joe had begun the morning's coffee. Within a short time I heard the SSB radio's granulated static tune up signaling Chris Parker's Bahamas forecast. For some reason after all the odd cabin sounds modulated I immediately fell back to sleep, but did awaken periodically to hear a few snippets of information pertaining to our crystal ball being Chris's high confidence forecast for a Gulf Stream crossing to the Bahamas on Friday!

     After savoring a cup of Joe it was time to get serious. We were now in preparation mode. Mooring lines were dropped and Simple Life was steered in toward the fuel dock in a driving rain squall for a diesel top off and much needed water fill. The squall lasted only a few minutes and we were ready to begin fueling. Next stop? Lake Worth, Palm Beach where we planned to anchor on New Year's Eve staging for a hop off early morning on Friday along with an overnight passage to somewhere in the Bahamas. As of departure we knew only that we were headed offshore. Plans were to see how strong the winds and current were and only thereafter to determine our arrival plans.

Chuck & Sandy SVSummer Wind, Joe & Michele SV Simple Life
Kaye & TJ SV Shearwater after enjoying
Christmas dinner at Mulligan's, Vero Beach
     Actually, this is quite a strategy for us. Originally, back in the beginning of December, we formulated an action plan to head south to somewhere around Miami and cross from there. That didn't work out. High winds have kept most cruisers in anchorages stateside. We hung out in Vero Beach for six weeks! I love Vero, but since we are also cruising sailors...felt it was time to move on. Although, Vero has much to offer cruising sailors with free bus transportation, great shopping, beaches and numerous restaurants. Certainly enough to stay entertained. Vero Beach has acquired the nick name Velcro Beach for a reason. It's easy to make excuses to stay here. Even when a high confidence Chris Parker forecast has been presented Vero tends to tug at you. There always seems to be that little voice whispering, "Stay a few more can work on boat projects, they have showers & laundry here, things can be delivered, you can shop here...TJMaxx is on the bus line."

Joe at the helm notice the tanker and another sailboat in
the background. I was checking them on AIS.
     We began our Gulf Stream crossing on Friday January 1, at 7:00 AM. It's now 11:00 AM, January 2, 2016 and I'm happy to report that Simple Life has arrived safely across the Stream, the Little Bahama Banks and into the anchorage at Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas. The crossing went well with calm seas and at times wind enough to sail without listening to the engine. Joe will head in shortly to clear Customs with our paperwork for our 90 day visa and cruising permit.

Screen shot of the AIS laptop display ( I added black arrows
for illustration purposes)

Happy to report that my
boat garden did fine during
the crossing.

      My Christmas gift (AIS) worked well. So well in fact that both Joe and I managed to relax enough on this passage to actually sleep when our watches were over. Joe slept so soundly that a good shaking didn't wake him after I'd spotted approaching lights on the horizon which became increasingly brighter as we neared. A quick check on AIS and no boats came up on the screen. Same result with radar. Befuddled, I attempted to wake Joe again by shaking his shoulders, calling to him and knocking on the cabin ceiling. My first thought was, "He's dead! " I'm obviously a pessimist...after a quick check for breath and pulse (both positive), I ran quickly up the cockpit steps and continued to check the vessel headed in our direction. In a bit of a panic I began banging on the fiberglass from the helm station in the cockpit. Joe groggily stumbled out. "What's going on?" I pointed out the lights. After peering through binoculars and checking the chart he said, "I think that's Fox town on Little Abaco Island. I think the bright lights are Christmas lights on houses." I guess I should learn to trust the new equipment. Maybe I'll sleep even better next time. I know Joe will.

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