Hi all! We crossed yesterday, Saturday, March 31, 2012 from Rodriguez Key, close to Key Largo. Winds were forecast to be perfect, southeast 8-11 knots and 2 foot seas. We departed with two other boats that just happened to be headed the same way at 3 AM — pitch black, but the stars were amazing. I might add! Ducked through the reef in a “hole” the guys plotted out on the new Garmin GPS with our fingers crossed that the GPS low spots were in the same spots as indicated on the GPS … it was rough with the wind — 16-18, NOT 8-11 as forecast, blowing onto the shallow reef — 7 feet in spots. Shallow water equals bigger steeper waves, like Carlyle Lake in a chop for our Y Flyer friends. Immediately after crossing the reef, the ocean bottom drops to off soundings — gazillions of feet deep, making the waves while not necessarily smaller, further apart – i.e. much more comfortable ride. And the phosphorescence glow in the waves was, as I remembered, absolutely beautiful. The bigger the wave, the brighter the glow!
And for once, the wind was NOT on the nose – it was abeam on a nice reach. Because it was strong, once we got into the gulf stream, which wasn’t long, we were doing anywhere between 7.5 and 9 knots over the bottom — WOOHOO, Winterlude was FLYING! The last time we saw numbers like that on this boat was when we sailed from Belize to Isla Mujeres – again, riding the gulf stream north, instead of trying to cross it.
Because we picked Rodriguez Key to leave from, we were further south, a longer route, but taking advantage of the gulf stream current. For once, we were smart! 🙂 Or lucky … or both!
Dawn finally arrived after 4 hours of sailing literally in the dark and the rest of the day was one you dream about when you think about going cruising. Dolphins playing and the water getting clearer and clearer and bluer and bluer as we closed on Bimini. We decided to cross to Bimini only because that’s where the other two boats were going and we’d never been here before.
Arrived at Bimini about 3 PM – just in time for high tide, which was a very good thing because we saw some very shallow water coming in. Our Belize reading the water experience paid off – all the other boats bumped coming in, but David kept us a bit more right in the bend in the channel and in a narrow ribbon of deeper blue water. We decided to to to the Blue Water Marina – $1 a foot a day – again because that’s where the other boat’s were headed and supposedly customs & immigration was next door. Which it was – the minute the boat hit the dock (not literally), David, the marina guy helped us tie up and hustled David off to customs – only the captain gets to leave the boat until it’s all cleared in.
We’re here and now looking for a window — 2-3 days — to cross the Bahama Banks, a shallow – 10 – 15 feet sea of clear water stretching about 80 miles or more from here to the Exumas. We’ll anchor on the banks one night because we can’t make 80 miles in one day. That should be fun – hopefully we’ll find a likely looking spot for some snorkeling at the same time. And drag a fishing line, even though we were obviously just entertaining the fish (to borrow a line from the Trawler DriftAway blog – thx Dave!). Today there are isolated squalls forecast and a band of clouds in the sky, so we’ll just wander around the little town of Alicetown and see about eating some Bahamian food and stocking the boat with the famous Bahamian beer, Kalik!
Until I find another internet connection, sea ya! 🙂 Cheers! J&D