Finally! We met up with Jeff and Jean from Two Can Sail on Monday evening, as we were topping off our diesel, gas, and water at Marathon Marina. We hired Jeff and Jean, whose expertise is making dreaming couples into cruising couples, to captain the boat for the crossing. Dave and I wanted to learn weather and route planning, checking in procedures in foreign countries, and more about the systems and parts on our boat from them. We motored back out to the anchorage to make our plans for Tuesday evening’s departure.
Jean checked out the condition of the boat, our parts and supplies, charts onboard, and life jacket and harness situation. After giving us a short list of items needed, Dave and I made a final run into town to purchase charts, a Bahamas courtesy flag, hose clamps, sea sickness pills, and some final groceries including meats and breads. Next, everything had to be stowed and/or tied down. Forrest Gump would compare crossing the Gulfstream to a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. We needed to be prepared for anything.
About 4:30 pm, we raised the anchor and motored east on a direct heading to South Riding Rock. South Riding Rock marks the entry to the Great Bahamas Bank (and coral head territory) from the Gulfstream and we needed to arrive during daylight. By leaving in the evening and motoring (since winds were not favorable to sailing but favorable to crossing) across the Gulfstream all night, we would arrive at South Riding Rock around 9:00 am.
Leaving the Florida keys was wavy but not real rough. We had a good comparison after that nightmare trip to Key West. Jeff assured me that this was as rough as it was going to get. This held true and the more distance we traveled, the calmer the water became. The Gulfstream was running about 3.5 knots northeast and our course was corrected throughout the night to account for the influence of the current. On my shift, we passed six ships in the distance and I saw ghostly hints of a couple other sailing vessels. One of the ships was a cruise ship that glowed like a city. The brightest light on it was the outdoor big screen for movies! On Dave’s shift, he lost count after 13 ships and had to do some fancy maneuvering to avoid a collision course.
The sun rose and the water was still a beautiful deep blue, signifying deep water. By 9:00 am, Jeff could discern South Riding Rock in the distance. A little behind schedule, but not bad. Dave decided to try out his new fishing gear. He attached a rod holder to the stanchion (metal post that holds up the life lines that go around the boat) and rigged a lure on the pole. Unfortunately, shortly after putting out his line, we reached the Bank and the water depth was only 20 feet. He did get one bite, though, and the reel whirred as the line went out. By the time we all looked, only the lure was remaining on the line. Close but no sushi lunch today.
With the shallower water, the color changed to a swimming pool aqua, absolutely beautiful! We could clearly see the bottom and distinguish the coral patches from the sand (coral patches are sharp dark spots in the water). We had a successful crossing over the Gulfstream, but there is no rest for the weary. We need to get across the Bank, past another coral head region, and into the channel to Nassau before dark.
Gizmo update: Gizmo is adjusting well. As soon as we start the engines, he becomes insecure and seeks reassurance. He cuddled in tight with mom until he realized it was not going to be another night like the Key West trip. Then he decided to explore the cockpit, which was not allowed, and he was unhappy to be continuously put back inside the cabin. He just wanted to be out where everyone else was, but it was too hard to keep an eye on him in the dark. After Dave’s shift, I took over, and Dave went to lay down. Gizmo kept misbehaving and wouldn’t allow Dave to sleep. After almost three hours of this, Dave gave up and sought me for help. I ended my shift a little earlier than planned to see what was wrong with Gizmo. Turns out, he was just thirsty and needed the littler box, but was too nervous to go up and down the stairs underway. Once that business was taken care of, he and I settled in bed for a good long nap. In the morning, Gizmo was hungry, a great sign that he wasn’t feeling seasick! Today, he is allowed to come out into the cockpit, but now he doesn’t want to. He is perfectly happy resting in the cabin. Go figure.