In our navigational chart it states: A good weather window for crossing the gulf stream from Florida to the Bahamas occurs when yesterday’s breeze was SE at less than 15 knots, today’s is S at less than 15 and tomorrow’s forecast is S-SW less than 15-20. A moderate northerly breeze against the gulf stream increases swells and makes for an uncomfortable crossing. A strong northerly (NW, N, or NE) will produce dangerous steep breaking seas.
Today we are anchored in Lake Worth waiting to cross to the Bahamas and it is blowing from the south at 20-30 knots. Hoping for a weather window in a few days. We are stuck on the boat today because it is too choppy for our dinghy to get ashore. We have a long list of groceries and marine supplies to get before the crossing. This morning we were rudely awakened by our boat hitting the boat anchored next to us. Strong wind and strong currents resulted in us swinging in opposite directions and BANG! No serious damage appears to have occurred. This is a big port and very large tanker ships and cruise ships are coming and going right by our anchorage.
I arrived yesterday by air after working (and partying of course–it’s Christmas!) for 3 weeks. Bruce has spent the past 3 weeks doing repairs in St. Augustine and then did a 41 hour solo passage from St. Augustine to Lake Worth (West Palm Beach). The major repairs included replacing the head gasket for the diesel engine, rebuilding the water pump, replacing the sump switch, replacing four windows (due to leaking), making modifications to our hard dodger including decreasing the height by 7 inches, building a rainwater collection system to come off the solar panels, and fixing the autopilot and of course many other small tasks. He tried to fix our stuck-in-the-down position swing keel. It couldn’t be done without either hauling the boat out or diving under. Bruce bought used scuba gear but the water temperature in St. Augustine was not bearable even with a wetsuit. Once he got to Lake Worth, he was able to dive under and fix it. Going to the Bahamas with a stuck keel (8.5 foot draft) wouldn’t have been a good idea in the shallow Bahamian waters. Now our draft is 4.5 feet. We will drop it down to decrease drift while crossing the gulf stream.
Don, Mike and I drove home on November 29. Bruce is staying in St. Augustine and will work on the boat there, then take it to West Palm Beach. Kay will fly there before Christmas to sail to the Bahamas. On the 29th Bruce got boarded by the Coast Guard. They were checking on registration and toilet holding tank usage to make sure we weren’t dumping into the ICW. We use a composting toilet and they were ok with that. Hopefully, Bruce will be posting a few updates over the next few weeks.
We had a fast sail in the ocean on Tuesday from Jacksonville to St. Augustine FL. Winds were 15-25 knots and we blew out the knot on the jib while trying to reef it. This resulted in a lengthy repair by Bruce on the bow in rough seas. After that, it was smooth sailing. We stopped in St Augustine because the winds were increasing Tuesday night to 20-30. It’s really cold too so we are deciding whether to head on down to Fort Pierce or stop here for now.
High wind (30 knots) on the ICW on Friday. We were downwind sailing and doing some flopping and jibing with the head sail. Suddenly it shredded. Didn’t get a photo of the shred but here is Bruce securing the sail. It was a pretty miserable day. Boys don’t want me to say that. They enjoyed 50 degrees, rain, and high wind. Yuck! Anchored in the middle of nowhere. Nice and warm and dry in the cabin. Had a yummy creamy pasta/salmon/spinach meal with lots of wine and a game of rummy cube. Mike won at Spades on TG day. Today (Saturday), we are hoping to get to Cumberland Island. Very foggy, light wind.
Wonderful Thanksgiving sail today from Beaufort SC to an anchorage near Savannah. Sailed much of the way on the ICW. Cooked a 1/2 turkey breast, stuffing, Don’s mom’s cranberries, sweet potatoes, collards (surprisingly good canned-Margaret Holmes) and apple pie. So delicious and fun to cook under sail. Topped it off with a gorgeous sunset. Thankful for our family and friends. Missing our kids.
We arrived in Charleston Harbor at 11:30 pm last night and are anchored across from the city docks. We had a 41 hour passage from Beaufort to Charleston. Had some great winds and some motor sailing when the winds were too light. It was downwind sailing with about 3 foot seas and it was extremely rolly. Most of the crew got a little seasick especially Don who was more useless than usual. As we approached the cut-through of Frying Pan Shoals (11 pm Sunday night), the winds dropped very low and we were motoring. Right at the entrance buoy, our motor stopped. We had to sail through the cut only going 3 NM/hour. It was a little hairy but all was fine and Bruce eventually (3 hours) cleared goop out of the fuel line and we were good to go. Here’s a photo of the crew, Mike Doncaster and Don Foree. We are staying put for the day in Charleston. Got a shower, laundry done and some wifi!