Manatee Sighting and Getting Ready to Go – Again
20 January 2011 | Second Day in Lake Park
We are getting ready to leave for the Bahamas. Having learned from the St. Lucie Inlet mistake, I researched Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) for accessibility and marinas. Since it's generally considered better to get further south to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas I wondered why so many we talked to left from Lake Worth rather than Port Everglades. As it turned out, I couldn't find any marinas that took transients or any place to anchor in the area where you didn't have to go through a lift bridge to get out the inlet. Additionally, it is the busiest port on the East Coast for cruise ships. Finally, the marinas I did find were expensive. We had come here with the intention of sailing south one more day to Port Everglades and then heading for Bimini. Given the information I found we decided to stay here one more day and change our destination in the Bahamas to West End on Grand Bahama Island. I figured all of this out at 2 AM last might because I couldn't sleep. I'm a bit anxious about the crossing.
It was probably a good thing we just stayed here. We had a lot more little things to do to get ready. I set up Skype accounts so I can call US phones from my computer. I also added some minutes to call Bahamian numbers. I tried it out and called a marina at West End. Although we will anchor 90% of the time in the Bahamas West End doesn't have a great anchorage, according to the guidebook. Since we'll be coming in late in the day I wanted to make sure we had somewhere secure to go. Skype worked great and it was very reassuring to talk to the woman at the marina who said that they could accommodate us and just call on VHF 16 as we entered the harbor. I also suspended service on our Verizon broadband device, so from now on I'll be limited to using the computer and updating the blog when we have WiFi access. Fortunately, the marina we will stay at tomorrow night (hopefully) has WiFi, so I plan to let you know how the crossing went.
This afternoon we walked out to a marine store. As we were leaving the dock we saw a huge manatee. We'd seen a few of them yesterday (the first we'd seen) but in a part of the marina that was murky and it was hard to see them. As you can see from the photo, this huge one was just lying on the surface of the water. He or she was at least 8 feet long. I'm glad we got to see one before we left Florida.
We bought a grill for our rail and set that up when we got back. We also fixed a leak in the inlet to the water heater, aired the two rear deck lockers and repacked the dock lines and Bud did his usual engine checks. We made sure everything on deck was stowed, and repacked some things below. So I guess we are ready.
It's only 55 nautical miles across, but we will sail further than that because we have to head south at first to compensate for the distance the Gulf Stream will carry us north. Then we'll probably have to head south again on the other side of the Gulf Stream to get back to West End, which is directly east of here. It shouldn't be a huge day, but I'm still very nervous. The weather is favorable, so hopefully all goes well.