I’m sorry, did I say “culmination”? That was silly of me. While our pleasant trip along the Old Bahama Channel would have been the perfect ending to the trip, this is the crew of Eastbound N Down here. Something has to go wrong. You may recall that we had 650 miles to go, and 5 days to go it before the wind shifted around to smack us in the face with a dose of reality. Unfortunately, we were not even close to Vero Beach (we were, indeed, many miles south of Miami) when the wind shifted around to the nose and brought with it a sensation that had, over the last few months, become like a mythical oppressor, as terrifying in its own way as scylla and charybdis. Yes, I’m talking about cold. Now, we were maybe 30 miles Southeast of Florida. The previous evening we had all jumped into the water to cool ourselves down, and before we knew it we were hiding below deck with our foul weather gear on as if we had found ourselves transported to the 65th parallel.
For some perspective on the difference, we had just spent the vast majority of the past two months in a state of perpetual undress. Indeed, it was all John and I could do to put shorts on over our boxers when we were coming in to port to clear customs, and that tendency had not changed over the few days preceding this unpleasant shift. You may therefore be able to imagine my displeasure at having to suddenly begin dressing like a polar explorer, a couple hundred miles from our final destination. You might remark that, in fact, we were still well south of Florida, so it is unlikely that the temperature ever dropped below 50 degrees. I am personally certain that it was approaching absolute zero, but as there’s no reason to split hairs, you will hopefully simply accept that it felt cold and move on.
I remained adamant about staying on the ocean to get to Vero Beach (proving, as I did so, that a 23-year old college graduate can still behave like a petulant child sometimes) but John and Ellen forced me (rightly) to acknowledge the fact that the wind was coming precisely from our destination and was only likely to get worse. That, combined with our drastically low reserves of diesel (there were, in fact, no reserves left) finally convinced me to see reason and eschew the unavoidable 4-day life-threatening battle with wind and waves that would surely have ensued had my plan been put into effect. We therefore put in to Homestead, just south of Miami, hoping to start up the ICW the following morning.