If you’re wondering where we are ultimately headed on this journey, you are not alone. We would like to know as well. The short answer we’ve been giving over the last six months has been, “South,” or, “Somewhere warmer.” Now that we are equal parts warm and South, we should probably start getting more specific.
Though our first major goal for the trip was to get ourselves to the Caribbean Sea, that is incredibly unspecific, and historically has not satisfied questioners. Also, if our ultimate destination were the popular cruising grounds of the US or British Virgin Islands, it would have made more sense to head East toward Bermuda from North Carolina and then straight South to the islands. But that would have required a week or two at sea and we thought it might be smart to gather our cruising experience a little more gradually. So here we are in Florida, and to my surprise, there is this giant chain of islands called the Bahamas – everyone is talking about it – between us and our target sea. Also there is Cuba. With few exceptions, everyone we’ve met along the way has been headed for the Bahamas. Some folks were even more precise saying things like, “We’re headed to the Abacos!” or “Bimini!” or “West End!” and wanted a similar commitment from us. So I would say, “We’re going to Venezuela!”
Since we should be leaving any minute now, yesterday we bought a chart book (basically, a map) for the Bahamas. Don’t worry, we had already started reading our Bahamas Guidebook , the paper charts are our backup in case the electronic chart plotter poops out on us. When we leave the inlet from Palm Beach, the closest islands are 50 nautical miles away, give or take, so we can do it without sailing overnight and get there before sunset if we leave before dawn. We have to cross The Gulf Stream (please read that to yourself in a monster truck announcer’s voice), but that is a subject for another time. So due to proximity alone, count us among those headed to The Abacos. And if you are really longing for some specificity, you are in luck. A couple of nights ago we met a veteran Bahamas cruiser who shared an itinerary with a nice ring to it; our first two stops are the uninhabited islands of Mangrove Cay and then Great Sale Cay, then we will check-in with Customs and Immigration at Green Turtle Cay or…some other Cay with a name I can’t recall right now. Three is my memory’s limit.
As far as a long(er) term plan, we’re still headed for the Caribbean. For awhile I was saying I would be satisfied if we made it to Puerto Rico this year, but now we have a date; Jon’s sister booked a trip to St. John in the US Virgin Islands in April, so we will do our best to get there by then! From there, in order to be out of the hurricane zone by hurricane season, we either need to be back in the US around the Carolinas by the end of May, or as far south as Grenada or Trinidad and Tobago. That North-South decision is primarily a monetary one. If by some miracle we still have enough money for the return trip, or some way to get enough money for the return (or continued) trip , who knows, maybe we’ll be closing in on South America by June.
While we’re on the topic of money – just for the record – if you would like to spend the winter in the Caribbean, then buying, outfitting, and sailing a boat from Maine has got to be one of the most expensive ways to do it. However, if you would like to travel as a lifestyle for a number of years, and work a little on the way, it might make some sense. In other words, in order to make all that we’ve done so far worth the expense, we can’t just be done after this season. Which works out quite nicely since it sure beats going to work everyday.
So even though 2015 might see us back in our home country, the journey won’t end there – hopefully. And there you have it folks, a definitive and precise plan for the future. Happy New Year!