Location: The Atlantic
We steamed out of Green Turtle this morning with our new fan belt. We saw a few other sailboats headed west as well, undeniably for the US. It was a glorious day, not too hot and perfectly breezy for us to sail. We planned on stopping at Great Sail Cay, last stopping point before the sand flats of the Bahama bank and the ocean. There were eight boats there already, each one getting some shut eye before the journey across. Although we had left Green Turtle early this morning Dad and I both felt wide awake and decided that we'd skip the stop and just keep sailing. The wind direction was just too good to miss out on, we were averaging 8 knots, but we also felt like we didn't want to give fortune a chance to spin her wheel in the wrong direction for us again. I sailed from sunset to 2am. We met no one on the way out. Not a single boat. It wasn't all relaxing though. Since we didn't expect to be crossing tonight we didn't have most of our gear organized. I had to pump up the life raft and strap it on deck, on a bigger boat this might not have been much of an issue but maneuvering on deck with two dingies, a windsurfer, three sun showers, and a five gallon fuel can while sailing was tough. In the cabin Dad organized every loose piece of equipment that could get dislodged or fall over and in the cockpit we got our life jackets and ditch bag ready. Lastly I secured my plant collection, now swollen to five pots, one big one for the coconut Palm. Having never made the crossing back to the states we're not quiet sure what customs will have to say about our new Bahamian plants. Some people said that Florida is really strict, that the coast guard will fine you and make your throw away your foreign plants because they are afraid illegal alien bugs will be transported in the leaves and once released they will decimate the oranges. Therefore I intend to hide the green guys on board when we get close to Florida.
Dad took the wheel from 2am to sunrise. During our shifts on the wheel we survived on the last of our speciality coffee from Hope Town and pure adrenaline. At 3am we passed memory rock and left the Bahamas behind us for the Atlantic. The ride was smooth and I didn't feel sea sick once. We were flying home, going an average of 9 knots through the night. Like Dad, I napped in the cockpit during his shift just in case something happened, but nothing did. At dawn two container ships appeared on the horizon. Without a land indicator behind them it was difficult to discern which direction they were traveling, even though they are huge and moving very fast. They can be very dangerous at night, especially for the tired sailor. To combat the dangers of being mowed down by one of these vessels most long distance, off shore boats carry AIS systems that will identify boats by name, tell captains if they are on a crash course, indicate the speed and course of other boats, etc. We don't have one of these miraculous investments, making it hard to be confident when sailing in the dark. But we needn't have worried. We reached Florida around noon and began to sail up the coast to Fort Pierce, dodging fishing boats as we went apparently the Mahi Mahi had begun their migration. At this point I was a little frustrated, tired, and ready to drop the sail. The hardest part of the trip for me has always been seeing the coast and the accompanying feeling of being 'so close yet so far.' Our original plan was to come in at Fort Pierce because it was an easy entry and sail down the ICW to Port Saint Lucie, rent a car and clear customs there but when we got into Fort Pierce we dropped the hook in the first available spot (the nearest marina was full) and napped.
No pictures so enjoy this Florida beach scene: