Crossings – It’s All About the Weather, HaHa

 Like all cruisers we had been watching the weather and looking for a good window to make the crossing to the Bahamas. I re-read my old blog post about “Watching for a Weather Window, (WWW) and recalled how we had waited in Lake Worth for the best crossing day back in 2013. We decided that we really didn’t want to wait there again (not our favorite spot), so we stayed in Vero until we could see an upcoming window on Wednesday/Thursday of the week following Thanksgiving.

We left Vero Beach on Monday, stayed overnight in Fort Pierce, and then headed down to Stuart on Tuesday. In Stuart, we had lunch with Bill and Barbara, Al’s brother and sister-in-law, and spent the night at the Stuart Corinthian Yacht Club.

Stuart Corinthian Yacht Club, our last U.S. stop for a while.

Stuart Corinthian Yacht Club, our last U.S. stop for a while.

All of the weather apps looked promising for a crossing on Wednesday, December 2nd. Even the revered Chris Parker, weather guru, said that Wednesday would be fine. We were as ready as we could be, and  we were not alone in choosing this day for a crossing of the Gulf Stream. There have not been very many good weather windows for crossing in the past month, so perhaps we were all a bit anxious to take advantage of this one.

The wind prediction for Wednesday, December 2nd from 7 am to 1 pm to 4 pm. Looks okay -

The wind prediction for Wednesday, December 2nd from 7 am to 1 pm to 4 pm. Looks okay -We would be passing through the pale blue (5-10 knots)  to slightly bluer blue (10-15 knots.)

The wave height predictions were also in the lighter "blues." Color code translation = definitely less than 2 feet, which would be nice.

The wave height predictions were also in the lighter “blues.” Color code translation = definitely less than 2 feet, which would be nice.

Early Wednesday morning, just before we left the dock. So calm and peaceful, even if it was damp and humid.

Early Wednesday morning, just before we left the dock. So calm and peaceful, even if it was damp and humid.

The St. Lucie Inlet. Not many people choose this inlet for a crossing. It's a little farther north than Lake Worth, which added an hour to the passage. We balanced that with taking another whole day to travel to Lake Worth before crossing.

The St. Lucie Inlet. Not many people choose this inlet for a crossing. It’s a little farther north than Lake Worth, which added an hour to the passage. We balanced that with taking another whole day to travel to Lake Worth before crossing.

Heading out the St. Lucie Inlet.

Heading out the St. Lucie Inlet.

From my 2013 blog post —

Graphic of the water temperatures of the Gulf Stream. This time we did watch eh water temperature as it rose from 75 degrees to 84 degrees on our temperature gauge.

Graphic of the water temperatures of the Gulf Stream. This time we did watch the water temperature as it rose from 75 degrees to 84 degrees on our temperature gauge.

“The Gulf Stream is one of nature’s most formidable forces. This “stream” of warm water runs northward along the American coast traveling from two knots up to four knots with a mean of 2.5 knots. It is actually part of a larger ocean-wide system that flows from southern Florida up the eastern seaboard to the Arctic, over to England, and finally back down to Africa, along the equator, up the coast of South America, past the Caribbean Islands and into the Gulf of Mexico, and then back up the coast again – a big clockwise current of water in the ocean.  Here, in Florida, the Gulf Stream rushes through a deep narrow strait about 25 miles wide between Florida and the Bahamas. A successful (meaning not scary and frightening) passage should only be attempted when the winds are south/southeast, less than 15 knots, with seas less than 2-4 feet. Any wind out of the north will cause the seas to build in the northward flowing Gulf Stream, resulting in a very rough ride.”

Sooooo, how was this crossing?? Well, it was not fine. At least not my definition of “fine.” One recurring thought (among many) during the 16 hour passage, was that I wouldn’t even bother to write about this. I’d rather remember the first crossing or the second one. (The Crossing  and Crossing Back)

The seas were lumpy and bouncy. Instead of less than 15 knots of wind (that’s how I interpret the graph when it says 10-15 knots), they were more like 15 – 20. The waves were not less than 2 feet, but were more like 4-plus feet. That may not sound significantly different in the big scheme of things, but let me tell you, it feels very different! I rarely (meaning only once in my life) feel seasick, and I was queasy for hours this time. I resorted to drinking ginger tea and even took a meclizine pill (motion sickness pill). Occasionally, I took some photos, but when I look at them now, it just doesn’t look like what we experienced. On the other hand, I never once felt frightened or afraid, just plain old uncomfortable and nauseous. That’s bad enough.

Our wake in the seas behind us.

Our wake in the seas behind us.

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For those of you who prefer a little “action”, you can take a look at this 14 second video that I thought might capture the feeling a bit more than still shots. This was 14 seconds out of 57,600 seconds of crossing from Florida to Great Sale Cay, Bahamas. Click on this link —  Crossing the Gulf Stream

Things were rocking and rolling in the cabin, so I slipped an old sock over the middle mugs to keep them from crashing and banging.

Things were rocking and rolling in the cabin, so I slipped an old sock over the middle mugs to keep them from crashing and banging.

We had hoped that the seas would be calmer once we crossed the Gulf Stream and reached the Little Bahama Bank where the water rapidly decreases from 2,000 feet to 30 feet. Not much calmer.   🙁

The sun set behind us, providing some color in the sky, but nothing spectacular. Too cloudy.

The sun set behind us, providing some color in the sky, but nothing spectacular. Too cloudy.

After 16 hours and 40 minutes and 110 nautical miles, we anchored off of Great Sale Cay on the Little Bahama Bank just before midnight. By then, the wind and seas were calming down significantly, but the air was still seriously humid, with some lightening shows in the distance.

Great Sale Cay on the chart. It's the best I can do since it was too dark to photograph.

Great Sale Cay on the chart. It’s the best I can do since it was too dark to photograph. We anchored on the northwest side (upper left) of the island. Most boats anchor in that southern fork.

Eager to get going again, we pulled up anchor and left Great Sale Cay at 6:30 am.

Good Morning

Good Morning

Early morning at Great Sale Cay -- now those are calm seas.

Early morning at Great Sale Cay — now those are calm seas!

Al hoists the "Q flag", the quarantine flag, that must be flown once you enter the Bahamas, but before you have cleared customs.

Al hoists the “Q flag”, the quarantine flag, that must be flown once you enter the Bahamas, but before you have cleared customs.

The conditions were far better today on our second day of this crossing from Florida into the Bahamas, but the weather was hot and humid, with some rain and some sun.

Passing by the "Center of the World" rock. We remembered it from our return trip last time, but still don't know how it ever got that name.

Passing by the “Center of the World” rock. We remembered it from our return trip last time, but still don’t know how it ever got that name.

We also remembered this sailboat from the first trip. Still there, not eh same rock, but minus the mast now.

We also remembered this sailboat from the first trip. Still there, on the same rock, but minus the mast now.

The best part, the very best part, of these two days was finally reaching water that is clear and shades of beautiful blues and greens.

We can see the bottom!

We can see the bottom!

Changes in the color of the water - the paler blue .out there is a very shallow area

Changes in the color of the water – the paler blue out there is a very shallow area.

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BLUE water, pretty even in the hazy conditions.

Seven hours after leaving Great Sale Cay, we approached Green Turtle Cay, our destination for now. We anchored just out from the New Plymouth harbor so that we could  clear customs.

Kindred Spirit, anchored off of Green Turtle Cay

Kindred Spirit, anchored off of Green Turtle Cay

The Captain is signing documents, after the Admiral is filling them out. The lovely customs lady is so sweet and helpful, it is a pleasure to clear customs here.

The Captain is signing documents, after the Admiral (me)  fills them out. The lovely customs lady is so sweet and helpful, it is a pleasure to clear customs here.

After we cleared customs, we decided it was time to celebrate! At the "Suga' Shack" with ice cream!

After we cleared customs, we decided it was time to celebrate! At “Mo-Mo’s Suga’ Shack” with ice cream!

"Pirate's Plunder", an appropriate chocolate flavor, and quite yummy.

We may be very tired, but ice cream always tastes good. “Pirate’s Plunder”, an appropriate chocolate flavor, and quite yummy.

Next step is to move over to White Sound, the northern part of Green Turtle Cay where we will take a mooring for a few days.

Next step is to move over to White Sound, the northern part of Green Turtle Cay where we will take a mooring for a few days.  Follow the green and red balls that mark the channel!

We are so fortunate to have our friends, Sam and Kayda, waiting for us in Green Turtle and ready to welcome us here to the Bahamas. While they are prepping their boat, Solstice, for  her launch, they took care of us — hot showers, good dinner, and air conditioning in the house they are staying in. Ahhhhh, relief.

Sam and Kayda welcome us with open arms! :-)

Sam and Kayda welcome us with open arms! 🙂

Although we were tired, we revived enough to join Sam and Kayda and a few other cruisers at the Leeward Yacht Club in Black Sound for drinks and music.

Although we were tired, we revived ourselves enough to join Sam and Kayda and a few other cruisers at the Leeward Yacht Club in Black Sound for drinks and music.

Al, me, Sam and Kayda at Leeward Yacht Club

Al, me, Sam and Kayda at Leeward Yacht Club — Yeah!!! So good to be here.

WE ARE IN THE BAHAMAS ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

We did it, we made it across. A bouncy crossing, but we are here now.  What lesson did I learn?? You can’t always trust the weather forecast, so whatever “they” say, increase the wave height and the winds. Does that mean we only cross when the winds are 0-5 and the waves are 5 inches or less????

2 thoughts on “Crossings – It’s All About the Weather, HaHa

  1. Michele and Al,
    Really enjoy your blog and I’m glad you made it safe and sound.

    Your crossing reminds me of our crossings from San Carlos, on the mainland of Mexico, to the Baja peninsula across the Sea of Cortez. The route is typically only about 70-80 nm, 10-12 hours in our 38′ trawler, and usually we leave at night to take advantage of the calmest conditions, but you know how it goes, you get out there in the middle and things change. Do we keep going or go back?! Typically the wind or waves come from the N or NW, down the length of the Cortez, and our track is SW, so it’s beam seas most of the way. Ah, but it’s all part of the adventure!

    Buen viaje

  2. We’ve learned to pretty much double predictions for wave heights in the Chesapkeake Bay. Strange how those 1-2 foot waves grow to 2-4 footers! Glad you’re there safe.

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