The First Mistake (on this trip).


Dec. 5, 2013: OLd Bahama Bay entranceWe are in Old Bahamas Bay Marina on Grand Bahamas Island.OBB marina office-fuel dock

This was NOT a mistake. Our mistake was docking at Sailfish Marina on Singer Island, Florida in preparation of crossing the Gulf Stream.

I have to back up a bit since I didn’t have the chance to blog this trip from the start. We left Daytona Beach on Dec. 1. First two days out reminded us that it was December. Cold and windy on the ICW.  003We moved everyday which doesn’t leave much time for blogging since there are other life duties, laundry, provisioning, etc. while Ed does repairs and boat maintenance.

The highlight was at dinner at Harbor Town marina in Ft. Pierce, when we were able to watch a rocket launch from Cape Canaveral. All our times up and down the ICW, we had never seen this. Very spectacular. Fortunately I had my camera so here is part of what we saw. 010

Now for the mistake. The weather forecast indicated that Thursday, Dec. 4 would be a good day for crossing the Gulf Stream to Grand Bahamas island. Since we had a 9 1/2 hour crossing we wanted to be able to start at first light. The closest marina to Lake Worth Inlet is Sailfish marina, we made a reservation. Now, here’s the catch. We had stayed here some 20 years ago but our mistake was that we had forgotten why we never went back. Now we know. This is a great marina for big, two-engine fishing boats- not sailboats. Being so close to the inlet, the current runs through here like mad. Sailboats don’t stop fast and we couldn’t negotiate the fist slip the dockmaster wanted us in as the current was pushing us right into the dock. Ed backed off and we asked for another slip. This one was a very wide one so we could only tie off on one side. Bottom line, we could only get out of this slip at slack tide. That would be 4:15 am on the following day when we wanted to depart for the Bahamas. It also meant Ed got up every two hours during the night to check the fenders and safety of the boat. Not a good night.

Okay, now for those of you who don’t get up at 4:15, it is dark. Really dark, except for all the lights along the shore which frankly makes picking up the red and green markers more difficult. I’ve decided people should not be allowed to put up red and green Christmas lights which can compete with channel markers.

So, we left at 4:15, following our chart-plotter and hugging the shore to avoid a sand bar further out. We nearly hugged too close and nearly ran into someone’s dock. However, we didn’t and so that was not a mistake, just a close call. The dark caused another problem. Since I had to help with navigating, I didn’t get the fenders onboard and I didn’t want to go forward in the dark to do this. (Ed didn’t want me to either. If I went overboard, he couldn’t find me.) By daylight, and the exceptional seas, one of the fenders came off, never to be seen again-by us.

Then the forecast was wrong. NOAA said, seas 2-4 with occasional 5 feet. Winds from SSE. We did have this for about 2  hours, then everything changed. Seas were 4-6 with occasional 8 and wind on the nose. The crossing took 9 1/2 hours. Not fun. However, this is part of a cruiser’s diet. I ate nothing except half a muffin the entire day and Ed not much more. Sorry no photos of this, my mind wasn’t on going below to get my camera.

However, we got into Old Bahamas Bay Marina at 1:40, cleared customs, tied up in the slip, and very quickly remembered why we sail. Just look at that water!008

009We will stay a few days just enjoying the weather and setting. Then on to Sale Cay to anchor out one night and on to Spanish Cay in the Abacos.021

Jan and Ed

P.S. It’s a good place for landlubbers too. This is the pool and villa.

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About ejhowle23

Authors and adventurers, participated in the World Race 2011, an automobile rally from New York to Paris, crossing three continents and 14,000 land miles. Following much the same route as the setting for our debut novel, The Long Road to Paris. This blog describes our own adventures and challenges. And now you can follow our Bahamas sailing adventure that provides the setting for our second novel, Night Watch. Our next car rally, the African Safari Challenge, crossing five countries begins in South Africa, May 2014.
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One Response to The First Mistake (on this trip).

  1. TBC says:

    I remember those high seas and chop. No fun. Wet and cold. So glad you are safe, and one fender is a samll price to pay for your safety!

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