Crossing Details

The weather was looking better, so we hauled anchor at Ft Pierce on Friday, Dec 9th and headed south to West Palm Beach. The trip took us all day due to many bridges all with specific schedules of opening. Once in West Palm, we anchored near Peanut Island to be close to the inlet.

That evening, Murray performed his usual engine inspection. Then we ran the webbing jacklines down both sides of the deck. This allows us to clip a harness to the jackline and go forward ( to the mast or beyond ) safely while off-shore. Then the dinghy was hauled aboard and strapped firmly to the foredeck. We had a lovely barbequed dinner by moonlight and retired for the night.

Morning found us re-checking weather and details aboard. I baked muffins and made sandwiches for the trip.

By 10:00 am, we were hauling up the anchor once again and heading off. Although it was Sat, the boat traffic had yet to ramp up. We motored out into the rolly Atlantic waters and set our course for the Bahamas. Two other vessels followed us out, headed approximately the same place. Our mainsail was up to help steady the boat and, just maybe, take advantage of any wind we might find.

The ocean was littered with Man-of-War. The are a very dangerous type of jellyfish. Their tentacle are extremely long ( up to 40 feet ) and dangle below the surface. All that is seen above, is the pale blue balloon-like “sail” that propels them along. A sting by the tentacles causes extreme pain, shock or even respiratory paralysis. Thank goodness we have only seen them out at sea but they do end up on the Florida beaches.

A daytime crossing was quite different for us. For one thing, it was HOT. We shared the bit of shade available and enjoyed the day. A few ships appeared but nothing came close. Of course not, as it wasn’t dark yet!

As the sun set, we tried to dodge around a rain squall by sailing further south than the course line. Murray prepared a light dinner for us as my lack of sea legs wouldn’t allow me to spend much time below decks. The rest of the night was punctuated by short naps in the cockpit, close encounters with many cruise ships and trying to stay awake.

Dawn found s surrounded by squalls, with lightning flashing here and there. I put the handheld GPS and VHF in the oven to protect them in case we were hit by the lightning. All other electronics would be wiped out, even if turn off. But, the squalls missed us and blue skies appeared.

Finally, ahead of the bow, we can see the flash of the light on Little Stirrup Cay. Then the low islands start to come into sight.

By 9 am, we are motoring into Great Harbour Cay and headed for the marina to check in with customs and immigration. The dock staff give us all the forms to fill in and we doze until customs wakes us. Then we wait. And wait. And wait for immigration. Eventually, the customs agent returns and fills in the immigration papers. It is now too late to leave and we spend the night at the marina.

Quick showers, light dinner and bed. Finally.

The next morning, with a strong north wind blowing, where do we have to head? North of course! Just for a little ways but far enough to get quite salty. Then we sail past an anchored cruise ship and appear in many people’s holiday pictures. On we dash, with Murray hauling in fish one after the other. He caught 6 in the first hour!

At Hoffman Cay, we ducked in the narrow gap and dropped our hook in a protected anchorage where we rest, re-coup and play for a few days. Friends are anchored here as well and we will get into trouble with them for sure. Shelling has been great as we all found beautiful specimens one afternoon. A dinghy adventure took us down to Little Harbour for a burger at Flo’s. A vessel anchored here “Oma & Opa” invited us all to share in some beach cooking yesterday. They prepared a fish stew over an open fire. It was delicious.

Murray refuses to motor any further so we await the right winds to sail on to Nassau. Perhaps early next week. There we will re-stock with fresh veggies and then head off south to the Exumas.

The Christmas decorations are not up yet, because of the passage. But, soon. I have a surprise or two for Mur’s stocking. We are not sure where we will be but friends will be close by.

We hope that your Christmas will be special to you as well, with family and friends to share it all. Take care of each other and spread the love around. Hugs,

Heather & Murray

Departure

We finally did it – left the dock! Last Sunday, almost a week ago now, we started the motor, slipped the lines and waved goodbye to the friends on the dock. It was a cool but sunny day and we motored up the river towards Jacksonville, with the tidal current giving us a little extra push. The bridges in Jacksonville cooperated and delayed us very little. But, as we approached the junction of the river and the ICW, the calculations showed that we would not be able to make the 25 miles on to the next anchorage. So, we stopped early and tucked into a cove to spend the night. Murray did his usual magic with the barbeque and we crash.

Before dawn, we were up and hauled anchor at first light. The new windlass works like a champ and was worth all of the aggravation Murray had while installing it. That day, we pushed past St Augustine and anchored early once again. This time it was due to lightning in the area with heavy rain. The strong currents of the Matanzas River was to be our home for the night. The rain continued most of the night and on into the morning hours. But, before 8 am,donned in rain gear, we hauled anchor and moved on once more. This time, we passed through Daytona, New Symrna and into the Mosquito Lagoon. Just before a beautiful sunset, we dropped anchor on the side of the ICW and ducked below to avoid those critters that the area is named for.

The wind was behind us the next day and helped push us on down the waterway. As we approached Cocoa Beach, Murray suggested that we stop and visit cruising friends who have a place on the ICW. We anchored in front of their home, went ashore and spent a lovely afternoon and evening catching up and planning winter adventures.

By, 3 pm the next day,Thursday, we had reached our temporary destination – Ft Pierce. We had traveled 260 nautical miles since our departure on Sunday. Here we have friends who need some assistance with computer/GPS connections etc.

Their connection has been made and works with the navigation program that she is familiar with. And they have driven us all over to obtain the parts necessary to make our repairs. Yes, things are broken on board already. The water heater failed, the pressure water system as well. My computer/GPS cable burned up – well, didn’t catch fire but got hot and failed. So, repairs are underway here and we are visiting with friends ashore daily.

There is a weather window for a crossing on Sunday/Monday. If all of our jobs are completed, we MAY be able to catch it. Otherwise, we will look for the next one as we head on down further south.

From up north, we hear that there is lots of snow but maybe the hot air generated by the coming election will melt it all away. Ho, ho. Enjoy the snow but don’t believe too much of the rhetoric from the politicians.

Hugs to all, Heather & Murray underway again