Sunday, July 16, 2017

Crossing the Gulf Stream

July 2, 2017
Day 9 - Lake Worth to West End, Bahamas
06:30 - 15:21
approximately 65 miles

I woke up with the sunrise and looked out the hatch next to our bed. Glassy calm. I nudged Hans, “Hey, let’s go to the Bahamas.” He sat straight up, “Yup! I’ll go fire up the engines; you close the hatches.” And within five minutes he was pulling up the anchor. I’d say his doctor training combined with the excitement of leaving allowed him to jump out of bed without even rubbing his eyes. Meanwhile, I was groggy for at least another hour. With coffee.

leaving Lake Worth at sunrise, kids still sleeping
Here we go!
The girls were still sleeping as we motored out the inlet along with a handful of fishing boats. It was rough and rolly with smallish waves, only about 2-3 feet, but they were close together and coming from different angles so the motion was uncomfortable, to say the least. Freja and I both felt nauseous; Matilda wasn’t feeling seasick but she didn’t appreciate the rock and roll and was alternately grumpy and angry. She had a bowl of cereal at 8:15. There was no wind but still rough seas and intermittent rain storms. No fun.

morning storms and a freighter

I gave up and told the girls to come lie with me in the aft cabin. We put on the Charlotte’s Web audiobook I had borrowed from the library and I dozed in and out of sleep while the girls sucked down lollipop after lollipop. Then Freja puked. I gave her a zofran and she perked right up. 

Lollipop Team! (AKA the seasick crew)
Around 10:30 we were in the Gulf Stream and the seas moderated. It was so much smoother. We all sat up in the cockpit and blasted the Moana soundtrack. Hans hooked a couple fish - one huge one that broke the line immediately and a small barracuda that we let go. The water in the ocean is an amazing, indescribable color: aquamarine, navy blue, bright blue, sparkly. Matilda was mesmerized. 

finally, calm seas
cruise ship on the horizon
After she fell asleep in my lap while I was steering, I took her down below and she fell asleep on our bed. I went back up after 30 mins and found Hans and Freja steering the boat and Freja with new knowledge of how to use the GPS. She was having a great time.

again, lollipops FTW

14:49: only 1 mile out! We stopped at the drop off, around 100 feet and Hans threw a line overboard. Snap! He got a bite, that stole the lure! Snap! again! And he reeled in a golden hind (we think). Fish tacos for dinner!

arriving in Bahamian waters

Hans's first Bahamian catch

15:21 - anchor down in the Bahamas!! The water was clearer than we remembered. We found some empty conch shells under the boat and the girls were thrilled. I forgot how strong the current is - we need to keep a vigilant eye on the kids while they swim.

We couldn’t have asked for a better crossing. It was rough to start out, but as soon as we got into the Stream it became calm and smooth sailing. It was beautiful and fun. Of course we were a little nervous about the crossing. We knew if something happened to the boat we could call Tow Boat US for a tow, Coast Guard for something more dire. I packed a ditch bag. Our lifejackets were at the ready. Not fun facts, but necessary for any open water boating. What I had forgotten was the high volume of boat traffic between south Florida and the Bahamas. We always had another boat in our sights, once a big container ship and once a cruise ship, but the majority of the boats were open fishing boats. 

We certainly plan on crossing oceans in the future - much longer passages without resources like Tow Boat US and the Coast Guard and without short term bandaids like lollipops and zofran - but for our first “passage” as a family, it was a resounding success. The kids aren’t scared of crossing the reef (Moana reference for those readers without kids!), and nothing broke, AND we’re in the Bahamas! Win win win!

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