Crossing the Stream

The weather window was approaching. You could feel the tension/excitement in the air as cruisers made their last dashes to the grocery, the bank, West Marine and the telephone booths. The chatter on the radio was all about the weather and preparations. Local fuel docks experienced line-ups as cruisers filled their water and fuel tanks. Most of the vessels hauled anchor and moved closer to the entrance to the Atlantic.

Aboard Windswept IV, all was in readiness. The tanks had been filled the day before by jerry jug, so we didn’t need to wait in line. After an early breakfast, we had gone ashore to get rid of garbage and buy some fresh veggies. We made a couple of phone calls to our moms and pushed off from the dinghy landing area before the rush began. Back at the boat, Murray installed the nylon webbing that we use as jack lines to attach our harnesses on before going forward while at sea. I fired up the oven and baked some banana chocolate chip muffins. A few hard boiled eggs cooked up and then check that all is stowed safely.

We dug our cruiser suits out of the locker and put them outside to air. They haven’t been worn since 1997 in the Erie Locks! But the nights have been very cool and we may need them this time. They very much resemble snowmobile suits except they are bright yellow and full flotation. I double checked the charts and my way-points for the intended route. I think we were ready.

Many of the boats anchored by Peanut Island were planning to cross to Memory Rock and the Abacos. We listened as they decided to depart at 4 am. As we were headed to Lucaya on Grand Bahama, we decided to depart at noon on Tuesday.

Tuesday dawned with light winds and clear sky. The anchorage was almost deserted as most boats had left before first light. Xanadu, a boat from Green Cove Springs with Ron & Holly aboard, and us hauled anchor shortly after noon and headed out the inlet.

The sunset found us 36 miles out of West Palm, motorsailing with the main and still many miles to go. Lucaya is a total of 79 miles from Lake Worth and, with the gulf stream, approx a fifteen hour trip. We had met most of the shipping traffic while it was still light, which is what I preferred. The moon was to rise near 10 pm but we had 4 hours of real black night to get through until then. The radar was a great help to give us locations of vessels only seen as moving white, green or red lights.

Near 10:30 a glow was seen on the horizon and a very red/orange squashed moon rose quickly. It appeared almost egg-shaped and became paler as it climbed into the sky. The stars faded before its brilliance. Now we could see again, almost as well as daytime.

Once we neared Grand Bahama Island, we slowed down and sailed only as we would arrive before dawn. For many hours we ghosted along at 3 or 4 knots. Even that didn’t slow us quite enough as we arrived off of Lucaya by 5 am. Vessels were leaving the harbour and contacted us by radio, but the lights were impossible to pick out against the glow of the town. As the pre-dawn sky brightened, we started the engine again, dropped the mainsail and entered the harbour.

Customs and immigration was handled painlessly at Port Lucaya Marina and we spent the night there. It is very handy to the town and shops and we scoured the stores for the best buy on rum to fill our lockers. That job accomplished, the boat tidied up, a fine dinner enjoyed and we hit the sheets before 7:30! Man, were we tired!

There is a front coming through later on today, Thursday, so we departed the dock in the morning and found a hidey-hole in one of the canals where we could anchor, enjoy the town but pay no dockage fees. Xanadu had thought they may stay at the dock for a month, but the monthly rate wasn’t that great a deal. They followed us out to anchor.

So, another good crossing made. Now, we will need to wait for this weather to pass through before we can head further south. If we feel like another overnight, we can go all the way to Nassau. Otherwise, we will island hop through the Berry Islands and get to the Exumas when we can.

Hope all is well up north. Love to all.

Murray & Heather aboard Windswept IV

Where in the world are they??

Well, we are in Vero Beach. We got back to the boat on the 29th of Dec, rushed around and filled the frig with fresh stuff and prepared to leave the dock on New Years Eve. But, the wind had other ideas. Strong winds from the south pinned us on the dock. Early the next morning, there was a brief lull and we tossed off our lines and departed from Green Cove Springs.

The strong winds returned and helped us make a 65 nm day to Pine Island, near St Augustine. That night the temperatures dropped to the mid 30’sF and we had no heat aboard now that we had left the dock and power. Brrr. We snuggled beneath the comforter in the morning and hated to get out of bed. But, pre-dawn we were awake and moving. Murray puts the kettle on and brushes his teeth etc. When he finishes, I jump up and make the coffee, brush my teeth, try to make my hair look halfway decent and then jam a hat on anyway. Meanwhile, he has started the engine and pulled the anchor in partway. When I am on deck with all of the charts necessary, we haul the anchor up and start down the waterway once more. During the day, we take turns at the helm while the other one checks the charts, makes lunch or gets cold drinks. We put the anchor down again just before sunset.

We traveled 240 nm in four days, trying to find some warm weather. Each day, we put on sweats, then vests, then rain gear, hats and hoods to protect us from the cold winds. By mid afternoon, we were able to take off the outer layer, but never down to shorts.

Until Vero Beach. Finally. Fred & Cindy Meyer were there and picked us up for a home-cooked meal of soup and biscuits. The next few days they acted as chauffeurs and drove us to Sam’s ( for new batteries ), to West Marine ( for odds and ends ) etc etc. They flew back to Ohio for the Cleveland Boat Show after a few days, but left us the use of their car! Murray and Fred had researched the Honda and Yamaha generators on the internet – sort of a blind leading the deaf situation, but they learned a lot. We ordered a Honda 2000 watt generator and Fred was interested in the 1000 watt size for Brass Tacks.

After they left, we re-visited Sam’s and crammed even more stuff in this boat somehow. The waterline is disappearing, but we will eat well. A few other boat jobs entertained us while we awaited the generator. It arrived yesterday. At first try, the inverter/charger on the boat was not recognizing the power coming in. But, with Murray’s ingenuity, we managed to get things working. Our new batteries heaved an audible sigh of relief as they finally neared full charge. We even turned on the water heater. Wow, hot showers without motoring all day! Murray has made a shelf for the generator to sit on in the locker, that will also act as a support while it is on deck. The noise of the unit is not bothersome and we can talk at normal volumes even if right beside the generator.

So, now all is aboard and we are ready to depart. Oh, except for one little thing. We both caught colds and are coughing and sniveling away. I am doing my usual seal imitations. There is no window to cross to the islands this week, so we may just stay put here until we are feeling better. The weather has turned cold again and my feet are freezing. Time to find my slippers. Ahhhh, that is better.

So, that is what’s happening here. Lots for a while and then sit and wait. Usual life aboard. Maybe by the weekend we will head further south, looking for warmth and a window to get to the islands. Although, someone on the radio this morning mentioned snow storms in the Bahamas. I sure hope that he was kidding. He must have been…. right??

Hugs to all,

Murray & Heather aboard Windswept IV