Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday, March 10, 2014 Making the Crossing

Our original plans were to leave this morning at 9:30.  After checking the tides and currents at Fort Pierce, we all agreed that 11:00 am is better.  This way we'll get there at 7:00 am on Tuesday morning.  We are all itching to go but it's better to stay here than to have to wait on the ocean for a safe entry to this inlet.  So.....we are waiting!!
Happy Hours II
Rising Sun

We left the West End of the Great Bahama Island with light winds at our back and less than 2 foot waves.  Perfect!  We were waiting and hoping for this kind of weather!!  We were motor sailing along and enjoying the day, not believing our good luck,  when we all realized our ETA was 4:30 am…..2.5 hours early.   This isn’t going to work.  So, we either waste
time on our trip over by slowing our speed or do circles outside of the Fort Pierce Inlet until dawn.   We all shut our engines off and sailed with just our head sails.   We still were all having a difficult time backing down on our speed…who would have thought?  Oh well, we still have a long 19-20 hour trip and who knows what’s in store later in the day or night!

There wasn’t much activity along our way.  We did have a cruise ship in sight and Keith’s AIS told him that it would pass within 2 miles of our stern…that’s good.  Then we saw something big appear on the horizon off our port bow.  With Keith’s AIS, he was able to know the name of the container ship and it’s speed.   He knew by its name that the ship was bound for Marsh Harbour.  He called the captain on the VHF to make him aware that there were 3 sailboats off his port and wanted to know if he was keeping that same course.  Yes he was and that was good for us because he would pass  within a few miles from us.   We were also entertained with sightings of mylar balloons as well as hundreds of Portuguese Man of Wars sailing along the surface of the water and heading for the Bahamas.   They actually looked like blown up zip-lock baggies floating on the ocean.  Finally at dusk, we could see a dark shape on the horizon but couldn’t quite make it out.  Somehow, Keith heard that it was a tug towing some type of barge.  The tug and the barge weren’t close together so the captain was warning everybody about the long cable stretched between the two! 

Around 10 pm, we had a wind shift.  It now is blowing out of the SW at 15-20 kts.  Where did this come from?  It wasn’t  in any of the 3 forecasts that we looked at!  Of course the winds created 5-6 foot waves and with the direction we needed to travel, they were hitting us on our port side beam.   Yikes!  This makes a very uncomfortable ride…our boats would roll port toe-rail in the water, then starboard toe-rail in the water….back and forth for hours and hours.  This weather pattern stayed with us until we got out of the Gulf Stream and close to the Florida coast.   Luckily, none of our 5 sailors got sick!  By now, we are all tired and cold and ready to go to sleep…but not yet…we still have 3-4 hours to go.   I was so cold, my teeth were chattering! t dawned on me one of the reasons we were so cold, is because we were still in shorts and barefeet!   It’s going to be difficult to acclimate to the colder temps.  During the night,  Rita and I relieved our guys at the helm so they could warm up and get some sleep,  but Keith has no one..remember,  he’s a solo sailor!    

Motoring through the Fort Pierce Inlet was easy this morning.  This is because we planned the passage during the slack tide when there is no current.  It took approximately 1 hour from the time we entered the outer channel and traveled to our anchorage.  I will mention that this is a very busy inlet.  Fishermen are zooming in and out.  We even passed an outgoing  freighter. 

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