Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Back in the USA April 27, 2012

We calculated the weather for the next ten days. With a negative opinion of current winds, our thoughts were supported by many other sailors: it was time to go or hunker down for ten more days. That would make the window traveling north really tight, so we said good bye to friends in Marsh Harbour and made our way back through the whale on Wednesday morning, April 25. This trip was tough, we were exhausted after the ninety minutes in the whale, with 6 foot, confused seas and a virtual traffic jam of boats going at varying speeds, with limited and varying control of their vessels. The volume of boats in the whale that day reinforced our thoughts, everyone thought to move now or be stuck where you are.  

Twelve hours later, we had traveled 90 miles to Great Sail Cay where we anchored on the north west side of the island with a dozen other boats. This was our favorite anchorage all season, serene, safe, and easy in and out. At daybreak we set off for an area known as Memory Rock on the Bahama Bank. The passage is a mile wide, but you do it by navigation, all the "rock" is under water. Once through the cut, we were close to our destination for just one night: West End, where we started. As we stayed glued to weather we modified our plan, nixing the Saturday crossing for Friday. As we had had several LONG days, we opted for a shorter course to Lake Worth in the West Palm Beach area, a 53 mile crossing. Another sailboat at our dock reminded us there is a Customs office at Lake Worth, and so Lake Worth it was. Once again we crashed at sundown, rose before sunrise and cast off for home.

This crossing was a breeze: enough air to be comfortable, gentle 2-4 swells, little traffic, better than the whale. I credit Captain Rick for excellent planning and the patience to select the best weather window possible. The most dangerous thing about the Bahamas is a schedule.

Our sailing dock mate from West End and Great Sail was behind us so we had company by radio. Since you cannot bring fruits or vegetables back in the country, it was a food fest coming across. By the time we arrived, there were two meals left before we had to reprovision. We were fortunate enough to tie up in Lake Worth/Riviera Beach Marina at 3 PM, and by 3:45 had negotiated the customs business. Unfortunately, the boat behind us was a half hour late. Lessons learned: secure a Local Boaters Option before crossing to the Bahamas, then you only need to call Customs when you return; don't cross on the weekend as Customs is closed until Monday.

This Carnival Cruise ship was on a collision course with us
in the middle of the ocean.
Needless to say, we changed our course!

One noisy night at Riviera Beach was one too many, we couldn't move to Stuart quickly enough. The Sunset Bay Marina and town were wonderful. We rested, ate meals out, shopped and enjoyed the farmer's market. Then we provisioned on Sunday and . . . sought medical treatment for an infected finger the captain tried to play down the last few days. He can testify to great care and service at the Memorial Hospital in Stuart. (He will be fine, just the germ hazards of being on the water.) Stuart is darling, everything is open, even on Sunday; the marina offers bus shuttle service, but you can walk a river walk to town and the grocery store. Town has a Coastal Living vibe, but the weather didn't lend itself to photos, except the one we captured with an i phone.

Roosevelt Bridge, Stuart FL
You can cross under Flagler's train tracks
and safely walk along the St Lucie River into town.,
even at night 
Three days later and we are at anchor in front of Cape Canaveral Space Center. There is a launch in the morning, but we are unsure of the time. "Mariners are advised to watch for falling booster rockets if on the ocean." Good thing we are on the intercostal waterway! Long days lie ahead. We need to make miles before the next front comes in, expected mid week next week. That will force a rest, perhaps mid-Georgia or above, and it will be a welcome rest I am sure.