CROSSING THE GULF STREAM AGAIN
HEADING TO THE WEST END
We were up early. It was hard to sit and wait until 7:45 AM. The fuel dock didn’t open until 8:00 so we had no choice. We started the engines early anyway and headed over. We didn’t see any movement from Final Approach. Do you think they slept in?? I can never sleep the night before a crossing like this and am always exhausted at the end of the day when we arrive because of it.
LEAVING ON A FULL TANK
We tied up to the fuel dock. No one was around. We were a little early so tried to wait patiently. Then at 8:00 on the dot, Larry began to call the office. We had told Dillon we wanted to fuel up at 8:00 and he’s very reliable so it made us wonder what was going on. Why wasn’t he here? We need to leave. He’s one of the dock hands and is really a nice guy. He works hard and has a great personality. Larry had given him some extra money to keep an eye on our car while we are gone for the next 4-5 weeks.
SEE WHAT THE MATTER IS
It was 8:10 and still no Dillon. Larry was getting irritable. I told him I would walk down the long dock to the office and see what was going on. As I got nearer I saw Dillon standing out front of the office door. He seemed antsy too. I waved but no response. Suddenly I understood as I could see his boss was coming down the walkway. The boss is late for work and the workers can’t get in the office to get to work. Once inside the door I could see Dillon running around looking for where the boss put the key to unlock the fuel pump. Soon Dillon was bursting out of the door and hopped into a golf cart and came through the dock gate as fast as the cart would go. He quickly picked Ziggy and I up on the way and explained the problem. We both chuckled without having to say out loud what we were thinking (that the employee is more reliable and efficient than the boss). I guess it’s that way many workplaces and in life.
ZIGGY AND DILLON
Larry was anxious, knowing it was going to take time to fuel up and we needed to get through the bridge in 30 minutes to keep our appointment with Final Approach. The fueling began. Ziggy eyed Dillon at the pump and without even asking jumped off the boat and ran across the dock to sit down by Dillon. It’s funny but Ziggy took a liking to Dillon like we did. In fact one day, he snuck off the boat without us noticing, when he saw Dillon riding the golf cart down the dock and jumped on. Dillon told me later that he and Ziggy did all the rounds on the docks and even did the trash run together. I never knew this but Ziggy and Dillon had a friendship.
We soon had both fuel tanks filled and were pushing off the dock, saying our goodbyes to Dillon. “We’ll see you in 4-5 weeks! Thanks for everything!”
FINAL APPROACH WAS APPROACHING
“Knottydog, Knottydog, this is Final Approach!” came over channel 16. I looked up as I was busy stowing lines and fenders. There was Final Approach, and Peggy, wife and first mate, was waving from the fly bridge. Final Approach was calling to let us know they left the dock and would see us on the other side of the bridge.
HERE WE GO
We followed them through the bridge and once through Bob came back on the radio. He wanted us to go ahead saying that he would follow us out the inlet. It was a slow no wake ride up to the marked channel just south of Peanut Island where the channel veers off the ICW and out to the Atlantic. We saw a huge blue hulled sailing vessel ahead. They came out of the big ship yard and made a U-turn heading in the same direction as we were. They too were heading out the inlet. Maybe I will finally see one of those big beautiful sailing yachts in full sail today. I hope so.
OLD WOODEN BOAT
Ahead coming our way is an old wooden boat. Ah yes, I remember that vessel. She has a slip at the marina but several docks away. When she first came in I had to rush over very excited to take pictures of her but was disappointed when I saw some untraditional and historically incorrect decorative improvements. Still nevertheless, she looks mighty fine on the water and worth a picture of her out here in Lake Worth.
PAST PEANUT ISLAND
Going at a slow crawl, we finally reached the channel heading out in front of Peanut Island and past the old beautiful USCG station with two old sailing ships at the dock. I take some more pictures and try to include Final Approach with some of these landmarks in their photos. It will be nice to have another boat along to add scale and interest to the normally just water pictures.
FEELING THE SWELLS
As we head out the channel we begin to feel the swells of the Atlantic. I love the feel and strength of the ocean. It’s been a long time. The big sailing yacht is ahead of us. I try to get some nice pictures and still was hoping she’d set those sail but no luck. Rats.
Soon we are out in the ocean and Final Approach was following close behind. The seas are much bigger than the weather predicted. I hope this will be a good ride. It made me a bit wary. We’ve got 50 miles to cross today. We plan to push her at 16 knots. That should put us there about 1:00.
SEAS NOT SETTLED DOWN YET
The winds are picking up and so are the seas. It’s a bit frightening riding the seas in this little boat but she’s handling them well. Ziggy is a bit hyper and nervous but eventually settles down. I can’t be messing with Ziggy in these seas, he’ll just have to settle in a place and ride with it. Its one thing to cross this Gulf Stream in the Nordhavn but this boat has a lot of openings. This will be our first “ocean type crossing” in this boat so we didn’t know how she would handle.
FREIGHTER COMING UP FAST
We see a freighter coming up ahead on our port side. Larry turns to port to let her go ahead saying we won’t make it in time to pass in front. Final Approach continues straight on his course. Maybe they think they will pass in front? We pass behind and then when clear I see that Final Approach cut the freighter’s stern by about 50 yards. Everybody does things differently I guess.
SO FAR NO ONE ELSE OUT HERE
So far we don’t see anyone else out here but maybe a couple spots on the horizon will prove to be some more companions. It looks like a sports fisher or two. They can really handle these seas. We’ve seen them leave the docks in the worst conditions to go out and fish and they never seem to have a second thought.
Larry tries to hail Takitez, on the radio. It was a trawler and the captain was someone he was in contact with on the boater’s net who said they were making the crossing today also. No answer back. His trawler only goes 9 knots so they were leaving much earlier in the morning from Stuart area. Larry says we’ll probably catch up with them in an hour or so.
The seas were pretty big and the ride was pretty rough but we were managing. Final Approach is riding along side of us now about 200 yards out.
After an hour we began to see spots on the rolling horizon. It looked like two boats. Larry hails Takitez again. This time they answer back but the reception is broken up.
REACHING THE GULF STREAM
As we reached the Gulf Stream the seas increased in strength. You could feel the strong current pull northward and the water temperature jumps as soon as you hit it.
About half way across the distance today the seas started to flatten out more like the forecast predicted. I guess if we had left a bit later that entire ride would have been more moderate. The seas would’ve had a little more time to calm down after all the storms we’ve had.
SOMETHING ON THE HORIZON
About 12:30 we could see something on the horizon. It looked like a sailboat mast but we knew it was the radio tower of the West End. Final Approach saw it too and called us on the radio to let us know he could see it. Soon we could see strange mirage type reflected images of buildings and trees. The land is flat so no other land marks are visible in the Bahamas, and whatever shows over the curve of the earth just shows up like mirage type images.
COMPANY DURING THE CROSSING
During the crossing we counted about 10 boats that we saw making the crossing today. Some we passed and others that were faster passed us.
WEST END APPROACH
Final Approach said he would follow us through the cut into the marina. It’s a manmade jetty lined with coral and sand stone rocks. The water by now has become that beautiful Bahamas turquoise and just as amazing as I remembered. Once inside the harbor holding area, Larry hails the marina and announces our arrival. We had both made reservations so they should have room for us.
I remember the docks well. They are old fixed wooden docks and are so high that I’m not sure how easy it will be for us to get on and off the boat. The black Bahamian dock guy helps up get tied up but has to leave us to get Final Approach in. Instead of waiting until we got tied up, they came in and headed for their slip. No big deal.
We finished getting ourselves hooked up and fixed the lines. Once we were all settled we waved a cheer to each other! At least Peggy and I did. I mentioned that the seas were pretty rough but Peggy said their boat didn’t notice it. What? Now come on. Those seas were rough, we were all over the place for half the trip.
We were settled in and Larry and I took Zig for a walk over to their beautiful beach and had some lunch at their outdoor patio restaurant. Wow, watch out for the conch salad, it was hotter than fire! We came back and washed the salt off Knottydog and by now were pretty tired. We definitely would be spending the evening in and hitting the bunk early.
Unfortunately or fortunately, the weather was acting up again and it looked like we would be here for a few days waiting out another front. It’s a great place to be, nice restaurant and area and beach is beautiful so wasn’t a problem for me.
So here we are again in the Bahamas! Who wudda thunk!