We began our sail from Green Turtle to Allans Cay with beautiful wind and sunny skies. A rain storm came through and Mike took a few shots of me sailing in 25-30 knots. A bit intimidating at first but once you get your bearings, it’s all about minding your p’s & q’s, don’t cross the streams, keeping your eye on the ball…. paying attention.
Allans Cay was intriguing but the wind was a bit strong and we had our focus on getting home to the US at this point and less on exploring.
We had a truly beautiful last day sail in the Bahamas. Couldn’t have asked for better weather. Strong consistent downwind, sun with light puffy clouds, minimal waves… sigh… I’m going to miss this.
There were 4 other sailboats at Great Sale. The weather windows for crossing had been few and far between with the recent uprising of squalls so we weren’t surprised to see so many others staging for a crossing. Our last Bahamian sunset, probably for a very long while.
At 6:30 AM we listened to Chris Parker the next morning. Squalls in the northern Bahamas were diminishing today but down by Georgetown and Turks & Caicos told another story completely. Ongoing squalls throughout the day with gusts in the squalls up to 45 knots. Yikes, no thanks. Our wind forecast for the next 48 hours looked like it had weakened overnight unfortunately. Our sail was looking more like a motor with each weather update.
We had 120 nautical miles to cover from Great Sale to Fort Pierce Florida. And we did it in 21 hours.
The first 50 miles are in the outstretched Bahama bank with depths between 12-18 feet. Once you cross outside of the banks, open ocean takes over – sea monsters thrive, mast crushing waves pace the wild seas, and cargo ships are blindly roaring up and down the gulf stream. But it’s okay, we’ve got this, we’ve traveled the open ocean before and crossed the gulf stream once…. Really, we were set up for another run of the mill overnight. We watched the weather like a hawk a week in advance, we checked the boat over – oil checks, cleaned haul, rigging was good and we had a benign weather window. Nothing to fear but fear itself.
The next 70 miles include a 30 mile spread where we’ll cross the gulf stream and grab a 2-4 knot boost northward. We left at 2:00 PM and had a great 8 hour sail. Around 10 pm large oncoming storm clouds worried Mike (who had first watch). The wind became light and inconsistent and Gaia acted more like a cork in a bathtub being swayed back and forth rather than a sailboat cutting through waves with a purpose. Mike took down the sail and thus began the motor portion of our passage. I took over for the next four hours and I don’t recall it being particularly fun. We now entered the gulf stream and the ‘washer machine affect’ was in full swing waves sloshed from two different directions rocking us back and forth uncomfortably. I saw 3 or so cargo ships and a couple of sailboats taking the gulf stream North. Around 5 AM Mike took over again and brought us into Fort Pierce. I warily watched, having not actually slept during my downtime. It was beautiful but it definitely had a distinct American feel to it; large buildings and abundance of cars and hotels…all the amenities you could ask for and more.
We were back in the United States. Hey We Were Back!
Goodbye Bahamas – Goodbye Caribbean
We took a risk. We uplifted our lives in search for something new for different and wild places. We experienced everything from the surreal and eye opening unexpected experiences to the horrendous and brutal seconds that went on for days of discomfort. It is with a deep and heavy heart I leave the Bahamas, for me, our departure of the Bahamas recognizes the end of our Caribbean adventure. And what an adventure it’s been. We’re so grateful to have danced under the stars with friends new and old, to have explored both deserted and beautifully populated islands with new and beautiful customs. The food could have been better but what are you gonna do . We both have a new found respect for the environment and complicated infrastructures that allow for necessities like potable water, waste management, and transporting goods. The Caribbean is a vast and changing nook in the world, it’s definitely changed me and I hope we can share our experiences in how we live and what we do going forward. Thank you Bahamas for the all palm trees, white sand beaches, the wild life conservancy agencies, and thanks for all that clear water and fish.