Monday 30 Dec, Miami to Bahamas:
Today we depart USA. We aimed to leave in the morning before the wind dies. But the forecast this morning has thrown us a surprise. There is apparently a huge belt of thunder squalls coming up the keys and would be right there in the Gulf Stream at the time we planned to cross it. After the unintended wild ride two days ago, this time I take caution and decide to depart after these squall front has passed. The Gulf Stream is not a place to mess with in tricky winds.
So we settle in for the day, planning to leave mid-afternoon. Hopefully we will still get to Chub Cay in Bahamas where our berth is booked and already paid for. We do see very black clouds approaching from the south but we don’t see any lightning nor squally winds. And the new PredictWind forecast at 2pm shows the weather systems to be less aggressive than previously forecast. So off we go!
And just as we pull the anchor the wind swings SW and dies. Great, We really didn’t want to use our newly topped up fuel motoring all the way to the Bahamas! We go out the same channel as we entered Biscayne Bay and see the same shoals. 2.6m this time. That was close. Once into the open sea there is huge disorganized swell remnant from the previous days strong easterly winds. These waves, combined with no wind, make for a very uncomfortable motion as we motor into it.
For the Gulf Stream crossing I stay on a due east heading to go exactly 90deg to the current flow, letting the current take us 15 miles north to North Rock at Bimini, our entry point to the Great Bahama Bank. The plan works perfectly, leaving a nice sinusoidal track across the Gulf Stream. Love it when a navigation plan like that works perfectly.
Half way across, the wind picks up. At first, enough to have sails out while we motor, allowing us to be pinned down to stop the rolling. Then enough wind to sail without engine. Perfect timing because we had just finished completely topping up the water tanks, making RO water while motoring. Ahead there is a huge dark cloud, and it’s rain picked up clearly on the radar. Luckily it’s going east as fast as us so we don’t get a soaking this time.
As the lights of Miami fade astern, we see the smaller lights of Bimini town. Not our favorite place. We found it a bit of a dump when we stopped there last year. And we had a very frightening experience with a pack of wild dogs, where I wacked Oana with the GoPro stick while trying to fend them off 🙁
Soon we are around the North Rock which lies just north of Bimini, and onto the Great Bahama Bank where the wind dies again. So engine back on. But not for long, the wind soon reappears on the opposite beam and we are sailing nicely in flat sea on a starboard beam reach. When we put the spreader lights on to check the trim of the sails, we can see the turquoise water surrounding us. At last, we are back in the Caribbean waters. Is Bahamas actually classed as being in the Caribbean?
Midnight puts us 1/2 way across the bank, sailing very nicely ESE under a starlit sky in 4-6m of water. If we don’t run aground (!) we should arrive by breakfast time.