Saturday, December 14, 2013

Stuart to the Bahamas

Jenson Beach Light house

After all our shopping, doctor appointments and vet check we are ready to go. Now we just need at least a 24 hour window for the crossing, so its time to watch and study the weather. We watch at least four different sites for weather and then listen to Chris Parker as a back-up to decide the best window. This window must include clear skies, wind below 20 knts and not with any north in it, and predicted waves not larger than 2 to 4 ft.  While it's only 54 miles across to West End in Grand Bahama from Palm Beach, it is the strongest and largest moving body of water in the world, yes tides and rivers flow faster but this is mother nature moving warm water to cold water. It flows north at 1.5-4 knts and is just 6 miles off the coast. as narrow as 10 miles and as wide as 30. Since it flows north any wind from the North has an effect of building waves, big deal you say your a boat deal with it. Most people choose not to, rightfully so,

Click here for great Facts about the Gulf Stream

Well after 3 days it looked like a good weather window may arrive on the weekend. The only problem was that there was a large front coming in after that with winds up to 30 knots so we looked everything over twice and decided to move from Stuart to North Lake Worth in hopes to catch the window. The night before we left we read what Chris wrote for the forecast and it sounded like maybe it wasn't for us but we looked again at our stuff and decided it was perfect.
First container ship off our bow.

Jon checking all tie downs at bow

The trip to Lake Worth went really well, we called Boat Us to find out how the Cross Roads at the entrance to the St. Lucie River was because we would be there at low tide and always bump even at high tide and were told they had dredged it so all was fine. We did manage to bump near Jensen Inlet but with the tide coming in the current helped us up and over.
Lake Worth was quiet and no real issues except the sheriff boat that went to different boats as we were trying to set the anchor, we figured he would stop at ours but never did.

It's funny who you can count on while underway. We look to the charts for info in depth, bridge openings and clearances, and as mentioned NOAA for weather. You can't go by just that NOAA. Some of the best places for weather are "On The Line" LOL (Watch the 2000 movie "Intern" for a great laugh and to see where this came from) These are the most dependable, detailed and trusted weather.
Click to see one of the best weather sites
The bump in The St Lucie River if you call USCG they will tell you look to the charts for the controlled depth. Hint-it's off so call the people that really know, Boat Tow and Boat US, They'll tell you EXACTLY what it is and where. The Bridge operators work for the most part on a timed opening and have never operated a boat. Around the bridges there are currents on both sides of the tide and winds. Operators of the bridges deal with traffic and buttons. When it's time to open, if you haven't checked in with them and you're the only one there for the opening, he may not open it for you and he'll make you wait the half hour for his next opening. If its time for the opening and there are a bunch of boats maneuvering around they tell you to all get really close so his bridge is open only for a short time for the cars, OK I get that, But what he doesn't get is 3 knt currents carrying you to his bridge, or fighting 3 knts to get to his bridge, that doesn't even count a 20 MPH wind on the nose or pushing you wherever. Not a Clue,... "Get closer Capt - Back it down Capt. Keep clear of the fender system until the spans are all the way up".  We heard one Sport fishing boat Captain ask for info of Clearance in the Center over the story board posted. Bridge guy says This is great,..."I can't give you that info Captain"!!!!

I called a RR bridge to ask if he could tell me before leaving the marina if there was a train coming soon so I didn't have to idle around for ever, "Sorry Captain I can't give that Info Out to you, just come on out and I get your though as fast as I can" REALLY like I couldn't gather this top secret info from a car with a watch and note pad to plan some devious thing, I'd really call him to plan my evil thing,......

Customs Dock @ West End
At way point for Silver Cove Inlet.
Anyway,...We woke up around five am and decided it was time to go, but by the time we walked Blue and secured the dink the wind had picked up a little and we figured we would look at our AIS to see who was out the cut. Not many took this window because of Chris's report so we were not sure who would be out there if anyone, Jon found a Boat with AIS about ten miles outside and remembered the boats name the day before on the ICW so he gave him a shout on our working VHF. S/V Windward answered back to say the inlet was rough but smooth in the Gulf Stream. We finished getting the boat ready and by 8:30 we were heading for the inlet. Windward was heading for West End as we were so we kept in touch with him throughout the day. It was fantastic out there and even sailed for most of the trip. At one point I went down below to check some stuff and heard a noise up on deck that sounded like a wrench or light tool landing on deck and hoped Jon wasn't up there without me on deck, he wasn't and I just forgot about the noise until I was on watch and started looking around, as I looked at the wind instrument panel which stopped working in Stuart I thought maybe that was the noise. Sure enough our wind instrument up the mast was gone "SHIT" another thing to buy for the boat.

We had an ETA of about 7:00 pm so knew it would be dark going in the channel but it is well marked and just called the office just before five to let them know we were heading in and needed customs in the morning. The dock master radioed back to let us know customs would wait for us. Wow that was fantastic and better than that they had a special for slips so we ended up at a dock for the night.
The Customs guy was so quick Jon was done in about three minute and we got all the 120 days we wanted.
Zig-Zagging our way in the channel
The next morning we departed for the south shore of Grand Bahamas as we rounded the corner the wind picked up and was from the southeast 15 to 20 which was great sailing but not to good for the narrow inlet we needed to go into at high tide. About an hour before our way point the wind settled down and we had a pleasant ride in the Channel.
Not much room coming in
Now we are sitting here enjoying the resort for about a month or so till we decide what to do then. I get spoiled here but Jon said we will look at it in a month and decide.

At dock sitting pretty


Our Ericson hats at work....

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