By 9:30 I had tied the boat at the seawall, so I didn't have to take the dinghy off the deck, and taking a long walk around the point to look at the seas on the ocean side. It looked awesome as far as I could see, so we decided to go for it, taking a risk that we might run into a squall. We got underway as soon as I got back to the boat. My friend DJ trailed behind on his boat Perserverance, and our friends Tom and Sue on Andente, a fast moving motor boat, were far in the lead.
We had a very pleasant journey averaging about 8 knots and at times making 9 which is very fast for our little boat. We are generally grateful to make 5 knots. Coleen was excited to be in the Stream and needed to confirm it by seeing if the water was warm. I put the engine in neutral, made her wear a life jacket and harness and held on to her while she climbed down the swim ladder to put a toe in. Yes, the water was warmer according to her report. Of course I knew we were in the Stream as even with the engine idling we were making 4.5 knots. We traveled S for about 2 hours before turning our course to SE. Although our intended direction was almost due E we had to account for the Stream pushing us sideways.
The seas were mostly 2 foot swells, and occasionally just mixed up, but never too uncomfortable. We nibbled on ginger cookies, crackers and drank soda most of the day. We even tried some seasick medicine we had purchased at West Marine. You dab this oily stuff behind your ears and it's supposed to do the trick. We decided it smelled really bad and we'd rather be sick than stinky.
I was super excited with how well my AIS worked. Our AIS is built in to the VHF radio and is also displayed on the remote mike in the cockpit next to the helm. Basically it tells me the ship name, position, speed, bearing and closest approach on those giant freighters which otherwise look super scary from a distance. We saw 6 or 7 during the course of the day, one of which was going to pass at 0.15 nm. That was bit too close for comfort so I hailed them on the VHF asking if we should alter course. Surprisingly I got a quick reply to hold my course that they saw us and would alter course to pass ahead. They ended up passing 0.5 nm ahead, which still looked close to me.
Later in the afternoon, I was standing tucked under the dodger, alternately reading a book and keeping a sharp lookout, when something landed on my shoulder, then fluttered under the dodger. It was a banaquit, a tiny tropical bird. He hitched a ride for a couple of hours before finally flying off. Thankfully, our dog was tethered, or he might have fallen overboard while trying to catch the bird. Even later, I was sitting at the helm, again reading, when something landed on my foot. Yet another tiny tropical bird. This one managed to fly into the cabin. I decided to let him rest until we anchored, at which time, I managed to capture him and shoo him outside. As I write this he's inside again, hiding behind the canister set in the galley. Not sure if he's taken up residence, or what, but I figure he'll either be rested or dead by morning. Our ever useful dog doesn't even know the bird is there. Go figure.
Finally, around 7:15 we dropped the hook in 9 feet of crystal clear water off South Bimini (and yes Michael we did use our new Marriage Saver headsets). After setting the snubber, I literally danced a jig on the cabin top. I'm still amazed that little ole me actually crossed the Gulf Stream on my own little boat with only Coleen for crew! Secretly, I wasn't really sure that I wouldn't chicken out at the last minute.
Lest I paint too rosy of a picture, I should close by saying that our lovely anchorage where we can see a million stars in the dark night sky, and see starfish on the bottom through the clear water, even at night, is terribly rolly. It was an acrobatic feat to make supper and the lid to the pot steaming the broccoli flew off at one point. We've decided to do our best to ignore it and focus on the task at hand - and of course a glass wine helps.
Depending on the morning weather report, we may cross the Bahamas Banks tomorrow on our way the Berry Islands where we hope to spend a few days.
Thanks to my son for being our ship's webmaster and posting the blog and to my daughter Coleen for being the ship's photographer and a darn good first mate!