From the Helm of Adamant 1 – Blog 19 – June 2018: Crossing the Gulf Stream

Green Turtle Cay

June 28, 2018

Green Turtle Cay

The first part of this blog will show that not every day is blue sky and sunshine in the Bahamas! 

After four failed attempts to get our anchor to hold outside of Green Turtle’s White Sound, we gave up and went into the bay and took a mooring ball. We knew we were in for a few days of wind and rain which is why we decided to take a mooring ball instead of taking our chances on the outside with an anchor that wouldn’t dig in. Before we got our lines attached, it started raining. And rain and blow it did, for four days. I told Pat to listen for any booming voices telling us to collect the animals two by two!

We stayed aboard for the first three days as the breaks between squalls wasn’t long enough to get ashore. It wasn’t until the fourth day that we could go for a walk with Mike and Debbie and have one last Bahamian lunch. We scooted back to the boat just as the rain came down again. On the fifth morning, after yet another squall, the sky suddenly cleared and turned bright blue. The forecast gave us a three day window to get across to the States.

Sunset Sunset at sea, anchored 5 miles from the edge of the banks

We dropped the mooring lines and headed west with Resolve. What wind we had was from the right direction and we were able to sail for the next five hours. As we approached Fox Town on Little Abaco, I commented to Pat that I thought we were able to see the shoreline for a few more miles, but for some reason, it had receded into the distance. Silly me – what I was seeing was yet another squall coming.

We took down the sails as the wind was picking up. We have been in these squalls before and it’s best to drop the sails early. The visibility became less than 300 feet. The lightning is what got to me, I hate lightning! We saw a 56’ sport fisherman’s boat on the AIS and moved to starboard to avoid her. Though we took her wake, we never saw the boat. Yikes! A big trawler went by on the other side of us and the captain told us it would be at least another six miles before we got out of the storm. He was right.

Eventually we could see Resolve about a quarter mile ahead of us. At 5pm we rounded the tip of Great Sale Cay and headed down the west side to anchor in the lee, away from the heavy east winds.

Resolve in the Gulf Stream Resolve in the Gulf Stream

At least the rain had stopped. There was still lightning and thunder off to the south, but we were in calm waters now, so I was able to go below and make dinner. The plan was to leave at 10 am, do the next 55 miles, then anchor for the night at the edge of the banks. From there it was 14 hours to cross the Gulf Stream and get in to Fort Pierce on an incoming tide. Winds were forecasted to be from the southwest at 10 knots so all would be perfect. Yeah right!

As I was tidying up after dinner, the boat swung to the southwest and the waves started kicking up. There is no protection from the west and it was now too dark to move around to the east side of the island. A squall came through and we rode it out, the anchor holding well in the big waves. It was a short squall, maybe 20 minutes long, and the waves diminished to about a foot for the rest of the night. Morning arrived and the sky was bright blue with no clouds in sight. We headed out, into the west wind, another noserly! We saw quite a few other boats headed west, only one big one headed east flying a bright red drifter. During the day the wind died completely and we dropped anchor at sunset in flat calm.

Going The Right Way This boat was going the right way!

We were underway at 4 am and headed west. We had lightning to the east and the south and I said a prayer that it wouldn’t move our way. It didn’t and as the sun rose, the clouds went away. But with the sun, came the wind, not much, just the 10 – 12 knots predicted, but it came out of the northwest, exactly the direction we were headed. So, we spent the next 10 hours doing Adamant’s interpretation of a dryer. Now I know what my clothes feel like in said dryer! But we were never in any danger and Adamant plowed over and through the waves all day. It’s the crew that gets tired. Those are the times I am grateful for our Raymarine inboard autopilot system. It steered us all the way and we only did minor course corrections. I was able to get some impressive video footage of Resolve rolling around like we were.

Just before 6pm, we entered the channel at Fort Pierce. The wind had died completely and left us with just a rolling sea. Though Resolve radioed us to watch for the pod of dolphins close to shore, we didn’t see them. We did however spot the biggest sea turtle I have ever seen. He watched us go by, then swam away.

East At Sunset Looking east at sunset

As soon as my cell phone picked up a signal, I called into Customs to report our arrival. Last year we signed up for the Small Vessel Reporting System, so all we had to do was get our check in number recorded and we were done. But, there is a new system now called ROAM. I was told to download the app, fill out the online form, submit the form with pics of our passports and we would be checked in. Okay, I can do that, but after three gruelling days, the last one being 14 hours, I was not in any mood to go through all that. It could wait until morning. We spent the next hour and a half motoring up the ICW to Vero Beach where we rafted to Resolve. I won’t mention that we were so tired we drove ourselves into the mud on the wrong side of a marker as soon as we entered the ICW. That’s a secret!

The crossing was a success because we arrived in one piece, with the boat, everything in good shape. We had a celebratory drink with Mike and Debbie, then went below and put in the screens to get out of the no-see-ums. Welcome to the USA!

Until next time!!

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