01/20/2012, Lake Worth, Florida
Our close friends, Derek & Susan Bernard, arrived on the 11th to spend a couple of weeks with me on the boat and help with the crossing over to the Bahamas. The first couple of days were busy ones filled with getting provisions (yes more) and taking their car down to West Palm airport so it would be there upon their return to the States.
Initially, we thought that we might have a weather window to cross over on the weekend but that failed to materialize but hope sprang eternal for the following Wednesday. So, in anticipation of a favourable forecast we cast off from the mooring in Stuart on Monday the 16th and headed down the ICW towards Lake Worth. Derek was with me for much of the passage down the ICW last year but Sue had never seen it before and she seemed to get a kick out of seeing both the wild side of the scenery interspersed with the ever present development that never seems very far away.
We arrived in Lake Worth mid-afternoon and joined up with our buddy boat Tranquility who had moved down a few days earlier. Soon after our arrival, we started concentrating on the Cruisers' Dance -- watching the weather and waiting. It's a complicated dance that involves intricate footwork - one step forward, two steps back. We caught every forecast, discussed what we heard and sought out the opinions of anyone who would listen. We thought that Wednesday would be our chance, but by Tuesday morning it became apparent that that window was collapsing rapidly and our trip would have to wait a little while longer. So our little flotilla of two, along with dozens of others, sat anchored securely waiting for the next opportunity.
The weather is supposed to cooperate on Saturday and Sunday by moving a high pressure system into the region. We will give the Gulf Stream a chance to lay down on Saturday and have made our plans to cross over on Sunday, January 22nd.
So late Saturday afternoon we will move from the north anchorage down to the Peanut Island anchorage at Lake Worth which gives easy access out the channel to the ocean. We'll stage ourselves in the anchorage so that we will have as little to do to get underway in the wee morning hours as possible. Everything will be stowed carefully, sail covers off, spotlights charged, and the boat will be on a short rode. Our dance is almost complete.
Derek, Sue, Cindy and I have been sailing together for over 30 years and here we are again having one more new and exciting time together. But, we all miss the Admiral. It's hard to dance alone.
01/10/2012, Stuart, Florida
As Cindy said in her blog she's back home and has left me to my own devices here in Florida. And, so I'm "baching" it again. At least swinging in the anchorage at Stuart is a little more scenic than the work yard in Indiantown.
I'm waiting for our friends Derek & Sue to join me for a few weeks. They are currently on their way south and should be here tomorrow or the next day. They'll help me with crossing the Gulf Stream and then spend a couple of weeks in the Abacos.
So I've been busy get ready for our initiation with the Gulf Stream. For those of you that are non-sailiors the Gulf Stream is a fast-moving current that moves north from the Carribean through the narrow Florida Straits between the Bahamas and Florida coast. The Gulf Stream moves at an average of 3+ knots and when it meets any winds coming from a northerly direction sets up steep, sharp waves that quickly can turn into a dangerous rip current. So the right weather conditions are paramount for any safe crossing over to the Bahamas. Most cruisers wait until a cold front comes through the area which, most often, brings cooler temperatures and high winds. After the cold front passes the winds clock around from the North towards the East and then South, the temperature rises, and winds often drop substantially. This is the ideal kind of weather for a crossing provided the window is long enough.
That's currently what we're watching for and a cold front is forecasted to pass through on late Wednesday or early Thursday. Current forecasts seem to indicate that we might be able to cross early next week.
So I'm busy getting the last minute things done (the lead picture is of the Admiral with just some of the provisions we put aboard for the season) and when Derek and Sue arrive they'll have a busy day or two getting everything accomplished so that we can go down to Lake Worth and wait for our weather window.
And, then with any luck, next week I can cross another thing off my "bucket list" - taking my own boat to the Bahamas. Stay tuned I'll update the trip when I have Wifi available.
01/01/2012, Stuart, Florida
It's hard to believe that two weeks have passed since I anxiously anticipated my arrival at the boat and spending two weeks with Wayne. Now, as I sit here and write this short passage, I am saddened to realize that tomorrow, I must leave Wayne and the boat.
It has been a great two weeks though, and the weather has been fantastic. When we were here last year at this time, we had the enclosure in and wore long pants and sweaters - it was COLD! This year, shorts and tees are the order of the day. The nights have cooled down slightly, but the daytime has been sunny and HOT.
Christmas day we got up and to our amazement, Santa had found our boat! There were presents for both of us - we must have been good this year. We opened our presents and enjoyed some mimosa's while I cooked a version of eggs benedict using Portobello mushrooms instead of English muffins. In the afternoon, we cooked a turkey and had a full Christmas dinner. Life is tough on the boat. On Boxing Day, one of the boaters had organized a brunch for everyone. $5.00 per person was all they charged and it was incredible - grits and shrimp, cold meats, vegetables, fruit, cocktails, croissants and more. When everyone had finished eating, they said that we were not to leave without taking the leftover food. We brought two plates full of food back to the boat and were able to enjoy it again the next day along with our Christmas dinner leftovers.
We have had a lot of fun meeting other boaters, exploring the town and just generally putzing (boat term for tinkering) with small projects on the boat. I got out the sewing machine one day and repaired the two sail covers. Yes, my sewing machine is electric. Wayne started the generator and presto - lots of power to run the sewing machine. I remarked to Wayne that I think many people think that we "camp" on the boat and do without a lot of amenities, but if they could only see us - sewing machine humming away, solar panels and wind generator doing their thing and a gas powered generator to top the batteries off when needed or when we want to plug in a power hog like my sewing machine, movies when we want. Just like being at home - only better, because we're floating on the water in the sunshine!
We rented a car for a few days so that we could put some more provisions on for Wayne's trip to the Bahamas and so he could drive me to the airport. It seems funny renting a vehicle when ours is only about 25 miles away, but much more convenient than trying to get back to Indiantown to get the truck. We had done a fairly big provisioning when we were still in Indiantown, but there are many things (like toilet paper and paper towels) that are very expensive in the Bahamas we understand. We also like to keep a good supply of canned goods on board so that we're never without a meal. It's great to have fresh, but you can't always get it and we like to be prepared.
New Year 's Eve was a quiet one for us. We went to the seafood store and bought a couple dozen oysters, some shrimp and scallops and had a lovely dinner in the cockpit and drank far too much wine. We could hear the music at the restaurant beside the marina building, so rather than compete with our stereo, we gave in to their music which was actually quite pleasant (not sure what the decibel level would have been at the restaurant, but likely too loud for our taste).
When I arrived, I said that I wanted to see pelicans and dolphins. I saw the pelicans almost immediately and was worried that I wasn't going to get to see those gracious dolphins as they glide through the water. But on boxing day, they didn't disappoint. They swam back and forth through the boats for about an hour. We both tried to get them on Wayne's new camcorder, but we couldn't capture them. So, you'll just have to believe us. To top it off, last night we saw a manatee in the anchorage. You don't very often get to see them, typically you just hear them because they just come up occasionally for air, but we heard it first and then were able to see it not far from the boat.
So, tomorrow it is back home and back to work on Tuesday. It won't be long though before I'm back with my baby again.