The High Seas
25 April 2016
There are not many sailboats left on our dock in Treasure Cay. A few of the many sport fishing boats coming in for the bill fishing tournament in May have started to arrive. This has been a wonderful place to spend the winter, but now it is time to go. "Haste Ye Back" is on the sign leaving Treasure Cay.
We left Treasure Cay on Thursday April 21 at 7:15 a.m. Joe, on S/V Happy Destiny is leaving too. We are both traveling 72 miles to Great Sale Cay to stage for crossing the Gulf Stream to the U.S. The last weather report we saw before we left looked like a good 5 day window. It was a beautiful sunny day with winds out of the East at 15-20 knots and seas were 1-2 feet. As we turned to go through the Whale Cay Channel the winds were 22 knots with following seas seas around 5 feet. We were averaging 8 knots motor sailing across the clear, turquoise waters of the Sea of Abaco. We anchored at Great Sale Cay at 4:50 p.m. There were 10 boats in the anchorage when we arrived and a few more came in after us. The moon was full.
Friday April 22-Saturday April 23
Joe left before first light. He is headed farther to St. Augustine. Timing our arrival at the Ft. Pierce inlet (113 miles) for daylight and before the tide change, we pulled the anchor at 9:15 a.m. The skies were slightly overcast, the winds were S.E. at 18 knots and the waves were 3 feet. Crossing the Little Bahama Banks, we were averaging around 51/2 knots motoring with the head sail. Winds were 12 knots in the afternoon as the winds moved more to the south. A couple of dolphin swam along with us for a little while and the waters turned a creamy blue green. At 6:51 p.m. winds were 18 knots out of the south, traveling at 51/2 knots with a little main sail for stability. The swells were increasing as a storm approached. We prepared for the night, putting on our life jackets and bringing up our foul weather gear so that we would not have to go below. The winds had increased to 20-25 and waves were on our port side with 6-8 foot swells at about 3 second intervals. We both stayed awake all night. Carl held onto me and I was able to doze for a little while. The boat took quite a beating. The waves were pounding hard on our port side causing the dinghy to swing hard to starboard with a lot of pressure on the davits. The rail was practically in the water on those seventh set of waves. The waves were breaking over the bimini. When the moon was out, the light from the moon allowed us to see how big the ocean was. It might have been better to not be able to see. It was a long night. Fortunately the storms never developed over us. It rained on us and moved quickly on behind us where we watched the lightning in the distance. In the rough seas we were unable to correct our course for the stream and it carried us 10 miles off course. This would change our arrival time to after high tide. This means that we would be going in as the tide is starting to come out, not the best approach. Once we crossed the Gulf Stream the waves weren't quite as high. About 10 miles off shore the engine oil light and alarm came on. Carl turned the motor off and went below to check. The oil was checked before we left Great Sale and it was fine. I was worried about being tossed around with no motor. Once we were no longer moving forward though we just floated along up and down the troughs. Carl put oil in and started the engine. Oil pressure read normal. Back on course we made it about 5 miles and the alarm sounds again. Carl has to fill the oil again. As we approached the Ft. Pierce inlet, I called the city marina to make a reservation. Carl noticed the oil pressure starting to drop a third time. We quickly decided to drop the anchor just outside the channel and called Towboat US. We had lunch while we waited. Towboat arrived and once we were tied to his boat, I took advantage of the time to check in with customs. Filing a float plan and having the Florida local boaters card made this easy. With just a phone call we were cleared in. Once we were safely on the dock at the Ft. Pierce City marina, we took a much needed nap. Now we had to find a diesel mechanic.
Sunday, April 24
We walked to Captain George's restaurant for breakfast. Carl talked to Davido about finding a mechanic and he said he would be over at 10:00. We had forgotten that Davido was a diesel mechanic. He spent most of the day running a series of tests and trouble shooting. The Yanmar engine only has 1500 hours on it. He suspects and confirms that the problem is the oil cooler. By 3:30 he has the old part off and will return to take us to the boatyard to order a new one tomorrow. It's just a "boat buck" ($1000.00)as Robert on SeaQuell calls it. At least its not a new engine! We had dinner with Carl's cousin Brenda and her husband John at the Tiki Hut on the waterfront. It was a good day.