And you think since my last blog entry we've been enjoying the tranquil waters of the Bahamas, lazing around in the sunshine. Not. It wasn't in our plan to spend two full weeks rolling around in the swell of the anchorages in Chub and Frazer Hog Cays while the wind blew a good 20 - 30 knots. In fact, all over the Caribbean the wind whistled, stalling traveling plans for most cruisers. A boat in the Abacos reported winds up to 52 knots. Wow. At least we had internet access which we wouldn't have had in some of the more remote places we were going to visit for the next few weeks. Meanwhile the northern parts of the USA enjoyed perfectly calm and warm weather. So, the obvious choice? Head north. We are on a mission to be in Canada in early spring anyway. Change of plan, once again.
Traveling with the wind from behind presented us with a good run over the Great Bahama Bank back to North Bimini. It looked like there would be a good weather window coming up to ride the Gulf Stream toward the Carolinas. Last Tuesday morning we checked out with Immigration of the Bahamas and motored into the Atlantic. A favorable wind report of 17 kn NE, diminishing to variable winds of less than 5 knots further down the stretch sounded good. Benno had worked out waypoints for our autopilot to make use of the extra knots the Gulf Stream could push us along for the approximately 610 nautical miles into Beaufort, North Carolina. In the first 10 hours of the journey we motor sailed with the jib and main up in 17-20 knots of wind, throwing plenty of salt spray onto Diesel Duck caking up the pilot house windows and port lights. But that is nothing new to us and we would wash down the boat with fresh water upon arrival, thanks to the water maker on board.
The trip was mostly uneventful except on Tuesday at 17:00 hrs, a Coastguard plane flew overhead, calling us on the VHF radio if we had overheard a mayday call at 14:00 hrs they were investigating. But we had not. On day one, calculating 24 hour periods, we traveled: 228 NM, day two: 200 and day three: 162 NM with another 20 NM to Beaufort harbor. Speeds varied and during one of my night watches I monitored 10 knots. As we slowly lost the benefit of the Gulf Stream on Thursday and slowed to about 6 knots during tide changes, our fishing lure came alive, landing a nice Mahi Mahi (dolphin fish) to supplement our diet.
As we entered the channel into Beaufort, NC, I called the Customs/Immigration office on our cell phone to report our arrival. The lady on the phone asked me which state Bimini belonged to in the Bahamas and whether we had any meats, eggs, milk, or produce on board. Yes, we have and I said they were all bought in the USA. But if they have been to the Bahamas they could now be all contaminated I was told. We need to come to the town dock for inspection!
Two officials arrived shortly after we were tied to the dock. While one of the officers checked us in, the other one went with me into my galley, armed with two huge red plastic bags to check out Diesel Duck's provisions. There were nice potatoes that caught his eyes, which I had been nursing along. The eggs were in their original containers and had USA stamps on them. But my 8 cubic foot freezer was of real interest to him. I now learned that if meats are not in their original packaging, bought out of the country, or the origin is uncertain, they are not allowed. I use a vacuum sealer to prevent freezer burn, so many of our meats are repackaged. Out came the lomito (beef tenderloins) pork tenderloins and roasts, all into the red bag.
When the gentleman was satisfied with his selection after rummaging around the freezer, he jokingly said that (they) would have a BBQ.
I'd like to mention, that we usually arrive back in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami coming from the Bahamas and there we were given an arrival number over the phone, told to visit the Immigration/Custom offices within 24 hrs and have never before encountered this practice.
For anyone wanting to use our waypoints for a Gulf Stream ride from Bimini or Miami to Beaufort, NC:
Gulf 1: Lat- 26˚ 00.0' N - Long- 79˚45.0' W
Gulf 2: Lat- 28˚ 30.0' N - Long- 79˚38.0' W
Gulf 3: Lat- 31˚ 00.0' N - Long- 79˚32.0' W
Gulf 4: Lat- 32˚ 45.0' N - Long- 77˚00.0' W
Beaufort: Lat- 34˚ 35.8' N - Long- 76˚41.3' W