As previously mentioned, on the morning of the 28th we managed to leave Dustin’s family’s cozy apartment in Vero Beach to make our way to the Bahamas. We had a rather uneventful day of motoring the 50 or so miles down the ICW to West Palm Beach, where there is an outlet to the ocean by way of the Lake Worth inlet. Since this was our last day on the ICW, I was really hoping to see a manatee since we kept seeing signs for them, but unfortunately I was not that lucky. In fact the only exciting part of the day was when a bridge operator saw that our port of call is Saugatuck and explained to us over the radio that she was from Grand Rapids.
We were maybe a mile or two from the channel to the ocean when we realized we had neglected to put the main sail back on. Of course it was pitch black and blowing 15-20 knots when we realized this misfortune. Thankfully, Pieter had purchased the new Taylor Swift album prior to us leaving Vero Beach, so Dustin, John, and I were able to make the unpleasant task of raising the main in these conditions much more enjoyable with the lovely voice of Tay Tay (just to be clear, I may be the only one who thought it was more pleasant. While I’m only speculating here, I believe that Dustin was considering jumping overboard because of the music choice).
Much to our dismay, the conditions did not improve once we reached the ocean. In fact they were much worse than predicted. I would go so far as to say that the forecast was simply wrong. Instead of the projected 3-6 foot waves with the occasional 8 and 15-20 knots of wind, there were 8-10 foot waves with the occasional 12, and blowing a constant 20-25 knots. This made for a very, very, very bumpy ride, as we were being broadsided by these monstrous waves. Everyone that we had talked to about the crossing warned us of the Gulf Stream pulling us north, so we naturally aimed further south than we needed to. While we thank those who warned us about this, the result was that we projected the current to be stronger than it was, so we ended up further south and had to tack our way up wind to get to West End. Our unluckiness of course didn’t end there, as at one point when Dustin and I were tacking to avoid a freighter, the engine died. Pouring diesel into the tank and then bleeding the engine in 8 foot waves is not an easy or fun time, especially before sunrise, though it did prove that we, ok that Dustin and John, have gotten quite proficient at the engine. We also had an issue with the head, though I’ll leave out the details of that one, since anyone who has just eaten or is currently eating while reading this would probably not only lose their appetite but possibly also regurgitate.
Despite the weather and engine problems, we did make it to Old Bahama Bay in the early afternoon on the 29th. We only had to wait an hour or so to get the customs papers, which was quite a simple process. There were a few other boats there, all of which were impressed that we crossed in the conditions that we did, and many of them more or less told us that we looked awful after the beating we took (we did). This was just the beginning of a fantastic few days in Old Bahama Bay.