Stuart and the Crossing
24 January 2021
We ended up staying in Vero Beach for 2 weeks then continued south to the Sunset Bay Marina located on the St. Lucie River in Stuart. Having had a great experience there last year, we chose it again as a good place to spend time before the holidays, to leave Cay Paraiso on the mooring while we went home to Maine for a month, then to stage for crossing to the Bahamas.
We rented a car and further explored the area. Of particular interest to us was the Navy Seals Museum in Fort Pierce. In addition, we hiked several new (to us) trails, including the ones surrounding a variety of natural habitats along the Loxahatchee River in the Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Named for a Quaker merchant vessel shipwrecked nearby in the late 1600s, the park is the largest state park in Southeast Florida. Before it became a state park in 1950, Camp Murphy occupied the area, housing over 6600 men in a top-secret radar training school.
In just under two weeks upon our return from Maine, we were re-provisioned and ready to get to the Bahamas. Having made the crossing five other times, we have learned a few things. The weather windows this time of year are short because fronts are frequent. We prefer to avoid Fort Lauderdale and Miami. The local boat traffic is especially bad now with Covid, adding chaos to areas that are already hectic. Lake Worth is busy also, but it's only a partial day trip from Stuart and the availability of a huge anchorage just inside the inlet makes for easy last minute staging.
So, for the second year in a row, we crossed from Lake Worth. Although you don't get the help from the Gulf Stream you do leaving from Fort Lauderdale or Miami, we think it may be worth trading the extra travel days to get further south for just a little extra time it may take to fight the current. We left the anchorage at 4 a.m., had no difficulty getting out the inlet in the dark, and arrived in the Old Bahama Bay Marina in West End, Grand Bahama at 2:30p.m. Our conditions were calm and the seas were flat most of the way across the Gulf Stream, then we were able to pick up speed with a close reach motor sail for the remainder of the trip. Seas grew to short period 3-4 feet on the beam for the last few hours but, all in all, we had a great trip and made good time.
This morning we woke up to predicted high winds and rough seas so we are grateful to be in a marina. The resort is lovely and we look forward to spending at least the next few days here before we move on.
Look in the gallery for more pictures...