Saturday, 15 December 2007

Bahamas at last

Dec. 13-14th Thursday at lunchtime we left Lake Worth and headed south on the ICW for what would be our last day in the ditch. As we got close to Fort Lauderdale, the dinner boats appeared. Large, and covered in Xmas lights, they made for some challenging navigation. There are at least a dozen lift bridges, all with different schedules, some on the half hour, some on the quarter hour, and 1 every 20 minutes. All the operators were nice except for one who was asleep and did not answer the radio or open when he should, and another who started to close the bridge as we approached. If Janine had not stopped the boat we would have been severely damaged. Around 11:30 pm and tied to a dock littered with 100’ – 200’ mega yachts, and before sun up (0530am) we were on our way again. We passed one more bridge and transited Port Everglades harbour in the dark, dodging cruise ships (they are really easy to see), and headed out. At 645am, after passing one more inbound cruise ship we were on the open ocean and motor sailing close hauled into 15 knots ESE of breeze and disorganized 4’ swells, with the sun just starting to rise. Our plan was to head south for a couple of hours and then east to Bimini, but by the time we were 2 or 3 mile offshore the Gulf Stream had us in its grasp. Our boat speed was still 7 knots but our speed over the ground was only 3 - 4 knots. This would mean our trip to Bimini would take 14plus hours. Plan B…..At about 0830 we tacked onto starboard and close reached NE toward West End. West End was further away but this put the effects of the Gulf Stream behind us and our speed over ground jumped to 10 – 12 knots. The GPS calculated our arrival in less than 8 hours……..As they say ‘it’s important to have a Plan B’…….. The ride was still bumpy but after a while the seas became more organized, and the ride more comfortable. We had put some fishing lines out earlier in the day as the Gulf Stream is supposed to be where all the fish are, but were still surprised when we got a strike. The fish stripped off 100 meters of line and as the chaos subsided and we slowed the boat, there was no line left on the reel, the leader broke, and the fish was gone. The brief view that we got of a dorsal fin, makes us think it was a billfish of some kind. Arriving at Old Bahama Bay Marina in East End, we tied up. We had made it to the Bahamas!! While Gary cleared customs everyone else gave the boat a quick clean before we treated ourselves to a dinner out. Everyone was ravenous as eating had not been a popular sport during the day. Our first night in the Bahamas was a very quiet one with everyone in bed before 9pm!

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