After being in the Palm Beach area for two days shy of a month, we left for the Bahamas on January 13th. Why did we spend a month in the port that inspired WFSAIA parts 1-3? Well, a number of reasons. We had to wait for our long overdue Coast Guard documentation to come in before we could leave the country (like registering your car, but on a federal level), which it did after the first week, giving us a piece of paper that could officially prove we own our boat.
The rest of the time we spent waiting for a decent weather window and taking advantage of the down time to tackle both large and small projects we had been saving for a warm port, convenient to West Marine and the hardware store. Once we moved up to North Palm Beach it seemed we had the best such port we could expect to find, so our days were easily filled with boat work, related errands all over town, and provisioning for our departure.
Apparently, one should label one’s cans with permanent marker so that when the soggy paper label falls off you don’t have a locker full of canned “Surprise!”
Now we know for sure why someone painted “high theft area” on this wall: someone keeps stealing all the coconuts.
For the first major project, Jon revamped all of our plumbing. We took out the pressure water system which used electricity and didn’t allow much control over our water consumption, replaced all the old, not-so-healthy-looking waterlines, and installed manual pumps for the galley and head faucets. Next in the plumbing project was our rethinking of the very glamorous waste holding tank system. In the US, it’s illegal to pump waste overboard within three miles of shore, and consequently it’s not hard to find facilities to pump out the holding tank, usually for free after you buy some diesel and fill up with water at the marina. But outside of the country pump-out stations are not so common and not so free, so we needed another way to get rid of the waste that is funneled into a bag in the storage space under our bed. I know, you are so jealous right now. I will spare you the details, but that goal has been accomplished.
Jon, hard at work on the super exciting waste-wrangling project.
The state of our boat on New Year’s Eve.
Our very exciting New Year’s Eve plans.
While we waited for good weather for our Gulf Stream crossing, we managed to take a few days off of boat work to relax. Jon bought a used surfboard during our stay with his friend from high school in Stuart, and he was able to get some practice in though he’s not quite riding the waves just yet. On New Year’s Day we had dinner with our soon to be cruising buddies on board Godspeed, Pat and Lorrie. They invited us to take part in the southern tradition of consuming Black-eyed peas to bring prosperity in the new year.
If this isn’t a perfect day for sailing, according to Jon it must be a perfect day for surfing.
Being the best anchorage for miles around, we were in good company with other cruisers waiting for the right time to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. One couple organized a little get together for all of us at the pizza place next to West Marine (everyone always knows where to find the West Marine), and about 20 cruisers showed up to fill the place. Everyone was excited at the news of an upcoming fair weather window in a couple of days; they were sick of waiting around too.
As I’ve alluded to, waiting for the right weather window is crucial for a Gulf Stream crossing. The Gulf Streams flows Northward at around 2-4 knots, is 60 miles wide on average, and is an unavoidable obstacle for cruising the Bahamas or Caribbean from the US. Any strong winds with a Northerly component blowing against the current) can whip up notoriously steep waves and make for a voyage ranging from very unpleasant to deadly. For an ideal crossing, it’s best to leave a couple days after the last hard blow from any direction to ensure calmer seas, and with south winds for a nice beam reach on your easterly passage. Guess which way the wind was blowing when we crossed?
Next time, on
Serial Sailing Baby Blue.