Finally our weather window arrived, and we left Great Harbour Cay Marina on Monday morning. The winds were great for sailing, so we went across the Bahama Banks in a straight southwest line averaging 6 knots. Still so many cruise ships anchored out, we counted 23 of them!
Right before sunset, we anchored in the middle of the banks. It was very rough, but not too rough to cook a wonderful stir-fry meal and have a cocktail while watching the sunset.
After a bad night with very little sleep, we enjoyed the calmer morning with a nice breakfast burrito, joined by a curious Sushi.
We lifted anchor and sailed again, only 40 nautical miles left to get to South Riding Rock. The wind was a little lower, and more east, so we had to tack, and we enjoyed every minute of sailing through the clear blue water. We saw a couple of dolphins, too!
Willy decided that the cockpit was a good place to sleep off her seasickness, so we had to be careful not to step on her!
We made it to South Riding Rock before sunset, picked our way through the rocks, and decided to anchor directly behind South Riding Rock. We found good holding, and now had a protected place to rest before the dark-thirty 4 am in the morning departure to cross the Gulf Stream.
Even with the extra protection, we did not sleep very well, as the wind was howling all night and we were worried that despite the favorable forecast, our crossing window would not open. We got up at 3:30 am and went outside – the wind was still howling and it was pitch black, no moon. At 5 am we decided to go for it. We had a following wind and could not sail (we don’t have a spinnaker), so we carefully motored out from our anchorage towards the deep channel where the Gulf Stream slowly begins. At 6:30 we started seeing the first light of the rising sun. It took us almost 10 hours to cross the Stream with following 3 to 4 foot rollers, but as soon as we got across, we set sail south to make up for the 20 miles the Stream had carried us north of Key Largo to Ocean Reef. We checked into the USA with the CBP app on the iPad, no problem whatsoever and a really fast procedure. With a 14 knot beam reach and an average of 7 knots, we got into Key Largo before sunset, found our temporary dock at a friend’s house, and prepared to go to Wauchula, where we will be working at Stream2Sea to help Autumn and John make the planet a better place. They are rocking the new earth-friendly hand sanitizer!
Stream2Sea, here we come!