It’s been a while since I last posted. We’re back in Florida after a smooth trip leaving the Abacos and crossing the ocean from the Bahamas to Ft. Pierce, Florida.
Leaving Hopetown, we sailed through the Whale cut and docked at Orchid Bay marina. The central section of the Sea of Abaco is very shallow so to get to the northern islands boats must go out into the ocean for a short trip around Whale Cay. It can be very calm or roaring seas (called a ‘rage’) depending on the weather. We had a calm ride for the short trip out into the ocean.
At Orchid Bay on Great Guana Cay we filled up our fuel and water tanks. I also did laundry and bought a few groceries. In the evening, some nice folks on a custom-built sportfisher boat across the dock invited us over for sushi. I was expecting a real culture clash (fishing boats generally don’t socialize with sailors;-) but this couple was very nice and even came with us for dinner at Grabbers (a disappointment–better food at lunch.)
The next day, we sailed to Manjack Cay. Along the way we talked to Julie (Seaquel) on the radio. They had just arrived at Marsh Harbor and planned to be back in Florida shortly after us. Bailey enjoyed his last beach run in the Abacos before we lifted the motor and dinghy in preparation for the crossing. The next day was one of the best sailing days in the Bahamas. It was sunny and warm with a light breeze and we flew the spinnaker all day! We didn’t have any problems getting the spinnaker launched (thanks to Jim O who showed us how to rig it!)
We spent a beautiful, calm night at Great Sale Cay and left early the next day for West End on Grand Bahama island. Arriving late in the afternoon, the Old Bahama Bay marina was teeming with boats arriving from Florida for a big fishing tournament. We were glad that we had a reservation because they were turning boats away! It was much different than our last stay at Christmas. We took a quick dip in the pool while getting refreshed with Goombay Smashes. Dinner at the Bonefish restaurant wasn’t very good. The service was slow and we were surrounded by obnoxious powerboaters (loud talkers and blonde bimbos.) Maybe we were just cranky after 2 long days of traveling but I just couldn’t take it!
Monday morning, bright and early, we left the marina and headed west towards Florida. We motor-sailed all day and when we picked up the gulf stream, we were making 9 knots! As we got close to the Ft. Pierce inlet, Skip called US Customs to report our arrival. We had signed up for the local boaters option which is a program where you pre-register all of your information so you can just call when arriving back in the US. Well, it wasn’t that simple. Skip was on the phone for over 1/2 hour while the guy tried to find our information. Apparently, we were each supposed to have a unique number but they had given us both the same number. Anyway, we’re used to dealing with bureaucracy so it wasn’t a big deal.
Getting into a slip at Harbortown marina in Ft. Pierce was a bit of an adventure. The breeze picked up just as we approached the dock and the boat turned sideways in the fairway. When we finally got it straightened out, the dock hands had rushed over to help another boat that had crashed into the dock. Just what we needed after a long trip! Mike and Angie had anchored outside the marina because they needed to wait for high tide to come in. We called and told them that there was enough water so they also came into the dock.
It felt so good to be back in the US…land of free water, well-stocked grocery stores, TV and other luxuries! On the crossing, Skip and I prepared our 10 best and worst list about being in the Bahamas. I will post them to the blog after this update. I also plan to post my notes on the trip–what worked well, etc.
Monday morning, we rented a car and drove to the customs office at Riviera Beach so Mike and Angie could check in. While there, we verified that they had our information correct since the guy on the phone was so confused. All checked in, we enjoyed a nice lunch in West Palm before hitting the West Marine and Publix. I had to keep telling myself not to go crazy in the grocery store. There were so many things we had missed!
Mike and Angie left early Wednesday morning for an overnight trip to St. Augustine. They were anxious to see friends there and get their battery problems resolved. We spent the day shopping and getting desperately needed haircuts. I had to buy one new outfit in Macys because I was so sick of the clothes I’ve been wearing for the past 7 months!
We met Jim, Binnie, Sue and Jack at Conchy Joe’s in Jensen Beach for dinner. It was so great to see them again and talk about all of our adventures. Skip loves to tell his engine repair sagas!
Thursday, we visited Walmart and West Marine (again!) In the afternoon, we washed the boat and did laundry. It waas nice to spend a few quarters for the laundry as opposed to the $30 it cost to do 3 loads at Orchid Bay!! In the evening, we stopped at Beall’s for a little wardrobe refresher. Even Skip wanted some new shorts since his were all worn out. We had a lovely dinner at Jim and Sue’s after enjoying a swim in their pool. Jim makes the best guacamole and margaritas!
Friday morning, Skip returned the car and we left the marina to start our trip north on the ICW. I had to get used to reading the guide books backwards (they lay out the trip from north to south.) The mile marker numbers are getting smaller instead of bigger this time! It was warm, calm and sunny for the long day of motoring. We had planned to anchor near Cocao but after trying to set the anchor twice, we decided to move on. The anchorage was choppy and the holding wasn’t good there. It just didn’t feel right. I cooked dinner while we motored on to the NASA causeway bridge. We passed through the bridge and anchored within sight of the Cape Kennedy buildings. The anchorage was much better here. There were also a few cruisers anchored (which is always a good sign.) There was a bright full moon last night and the winds eventually calmed down for a comfortable nights sleep.
We’re getting into our ICW traveling routine now–waking up and getting underway quickly. Since the waters are calm, I can make breakfast, clean up and even update my blog underway! We plan to stop near Daytona tonight and get to St. Augustine by Monday. I’ll update again in a few days!