Crossing the Stream
25 December 2010
There is much hype about the relatively short crossing from Florida to the Bahanas, Yeah, I'ts only about 40 miles at the shortest crossing but it's one serious piece of water. Two years ago on my blog I spoke about the Gulf Stream and the conflictual and tumultuous effect it has on the Atlantic Ocean it barges belligerently through. Suffice it to say that you don't wanna be there in a small boat in tough conditions!
So, there appears to be a window coming and unfortunately Bob and Carolyn need to leave before this crossing opportunity presents itself. We're so appreciative of their coming down to join us with the intention of helping us bring the boat across but as the saying goes, "God waits for no man!"
So as luck would have it, Bob and Carolyn are leaving the same day from the same airport (Miami) that Georgina (Roger and Jacquie's daughter)is flying in from so, we are able to broker a drop off/ pick up trip to, as Ricky would say, "get two birds stoned at the same time".
We're sorry to see Bob and Carolyn leave but glad to see Georgina arrive and anticipate a window to cross tomorrow morning. To recapitulate; the gulf stream, the river of water flowing northward up the Atlantic Ocean. Carries with it significant energy. If the prevailing cold northerly winds compete with it, there are created large and confused seas which at best are uncomfortable for small vessels; at worse perilous!
So we see a window the day after Bob and Carolyn leave and begin the process of getting the boat ready for this ocean crossing. But as soon as they leave, we get a call from the marina that Frank and Audrey, friends from home and Caribbean cruisers are on their way through and want to see us.
We have a great, if short, visit with them; they've cruised the Bahamas several times and we wish that we could have had more time with them.
But, we have to get the boat ready and move to an anchorage close to where we'll ultimately leave Biscayne Bay and begin our transit to Bahamas,. We take on fuel, water, provisions, tidy things below, get out charts, and do many things necessary to prepare for the journey. For example, we need to install the "jack lines". These are straps that run along the deck to which you clip yourself if you have to go forward in heavy seas to hold you in should a wave wash you overboard. We also ensure our life raft is ready and everything is stowed.
We anchor off the southern end of Key Biscayne and go to bed early in anticipation of a very early departure.
I sleep fitfully but finally get up around five and check the weather, etc. Looks good, so at first light, around 6:00 we and Audacious weigh anchor and head out in the emerging light. We hear lots of " chatter" on the marine radio from other pleasure boats intending to head over. We pass "stiltsville" which is a loose cluster of stilt houses sitting seemingly in the middle of Key Biscayne; how they have survived the ravages of storms and hurricanes, I'll never know.
We know the wind is from the east which does not stir up the Gulf Stream but which will be "on our nose" meaning we'll be heading right into it. We need to motor and we are heading right into the waves. It is quite bumpy and every now and then we slam down on a wave. But, it's not too bad and we're headin' to the Bahamas. We do not make very good time so progress is slow. We finally make it across to our intended point of embarkation into the Bahamas at Gun Cay/Cat Cay. It is around 5:00 in the afternoon and I'm glad we still have light to make this somewhat complicated cut. Our depth of water goes from hundreds of feet to 14 feet virtually in a quarter mile. Now, we're out of the Gulf Stream and onto the Bahama Banks. We decide to continue for a couple of hours so as to put some miles in the bank in anticipation of a long day tomorrow crossing the banks.. At 7:00 pm we pull "off to the side of the road" and drop anchors. Actually we're anchored in the middle of nowhere but it's a gorgeous night and we're safe and sound.
All in all, an ok crossing but we've now got it behind us and we're quite pleased to be in the Bahamas.