Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Goodbye Florida, Hello Bahamas!

Just a few days after returning from Disney World, the weather looked perfect for a cross to the Bahamas.  Nearly flat seas, hardly a breeze.  We headed down the coast of Florida from Stuart towards West Palm Beach, and when our speeds started to slow towards 6 knots, I aimed the boat Southeast, to our first destination... Great Harbour Cay, in the Berry Islands of the Bahamas.  As we headed further into the Gulf Stream, off the coast of Florida we saw a significant slowing in speeds, we were now doing, 5 knots, slow.  So we changed our route to head more east, and less South.  The Gulf Stream is a current of water heading north at a quick pace.  We turned north, just to see how fast it was running, and our speeds jumped to almost 11 knots.  We turned south heading directly into the current, and our speeds slowed to almost 4 knots.  So heading directly across the current, in a direct east direction gave us upper 6's, almost 7 knots.  After a few hours of heading east, we hoped we were on the outer edge of the Gulf Stream, where it no longer has as much effect and we could now head Southeast again.  

We had never been to Great Harbour Cay, but the approach is all in deep water which would accomodate our overnight traveling to reach the area.  With a deep water path, we can travel in the dark and not worry about hitting any shallow rocks or coral in our path.  We only needed to make sure we stay on track-- and not hit any boats.  And there were a lot of boats.  Mostly large tankers.  As we passed along the south end of Freeport, there were a dozen large tankers waiting along our path, for permission to enter the port and load or unload.  I don't really like passaging overnight, but this allowed us to only be one long day of travel away from my destination-- the Exumas.

The kids all did great, no one got sick, including Brittany--who had gotten sick on our trip to the keys, when our neighbors came to visit.  They got their school work done, played games, and watched a movie while we were under way.  

The older kids each helped with night watch and took a turn getting up during the night to look for boats and keep us safe.  The younger kids take a turn with mom or dad, while the oldest 2 give dad a bit of a break.  They have enough know how to spot something in the distance to let Dad know while Dad sleeps on the floor nearby to take a little rest.   

It took us about 20 hours to make it to Great Harbour Cay.  We were planning to anchor, but as we approached the island we changed our minds and decided to dock in the Marina.  This would allow us to easily clear in with customs and pick up a Bahamas cell phone SIM card, for internet.  And dockage was less than most Marinas in Florida-- which meant it was in our budget range.

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