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Published: December 24th 2016
Well, we are “unofficially” now in the Bahamas. I say “unofficially” because we have yet to land and clear all the “legal” hoops of customs and immigration, but we are now physically on the waters among the Bahamian islands.
And it is as beautiful as I imagined it to be. While the waters in the Florida panhandle and Keys are clearer and warmer than at home, the waters here in the Bahamas are unbelievably breathtaking. It is like we are cruising in a giant vat of tropical punch Kool-Aid (although it definitely doesn’t taste like Kool-Aid)! This morning I could still clearly see the bottom even at 30+ feet.
Yesterday’s crossing through the Gulf Stream was a little rougher than we anticipated. We had read that it is best to cross when the winds are blowing anything but north, unless the north wind is gentle (i.e. 5 – 10 knots). Looking at the forecast the next week it was looking like increasingly strong north winds; yesterday was predicted to be N/NE at 5 – 10 knots with seas of about 2 – 3 feet. So we decided that yesterday was the day. Well, I can’t tell you what the
Some pretty funky boats here!
winds were, but the seas were the biggest “2-3” feet that we have ever seen. Add into that the strong gulf stream current, and we were tossed around pretty good for the first few hours.
Do you know that feeling you get when you are on a plunging roller coaster or similar carnival ride? The one where your stomach drops and your heart jumpstarts, even when you know in your mind you are safe? Well, I must honestly admit to a few of those moments yesterday. When your boat is careening to one side atop a giant wave and then drops down into the trough, it can raise the adrenaline for sure. And fear. It is easy to begin to imagine all the bad things that could happen if you let your mind wander.
But I held onto my faith that we were meant to be on this trip, that Lukus has both the strength and the skill to hold a steady course, and that everything would work out for the good (ok, I prayed a lot too…). Sometimes fear will try to sneak in and mess with your head, but I have been learning that it is
Now this is a cruising boat!
your choice to either feed it and let it grow or to consciously decide to reject it and send it packing. I sent it packing!!
About 2/3 of the way into our 10 hour trip, the waves began to lie down. By the time we arrived at our anchorage near Cat Cay the seas were only tossing up little ripples (ok, maybe not ripples, but after what we were in earlier, anything under 2 feet seems inconsequential).
Today, we are off again, headed towards Chub Cay. Which means another full day of cruising. While the waters are still a rockin’ and a rollin’ (I have given up trying to do anything but sit to avoid any serious damage to myself or any innocent bystanders…), it is calmer than yesterday and my adrenaline is well in check.
So, that covers yesterday and today. Between yesterday and my last blog, I will just give you highlights so this dialogue doesn’t become too lengthy.
After leaving Marathon, we hopped up to Long Key for a night and then moved on to Islamorada. We spent two nights there, using some of the time to do more hull scraping (think we
are almost clean bottomed…for now). We saw a lot of little fish and even a few stingrays; a couple of them were no more than 6 feet from me.
We also took some time to dinghy into shore and do some wandering around. The first time in, we tied up to the docks at the Bass Pro shop in Islamorada. Right below us were large, silver fish (tarpons) and a number of small sharks (yes, I stayed out of the water), and on our way back to the boat, I saw my first manatee. Lukus said it was on the small side, and maybe water amplifies things, but man, it looked huge to me!! I know people swim with them and they are supposed to be very gentle, but I think maybe I would feel safer swimming with those little sharks (just kidding…no panicking anyone. I will not purposely swim with sharks!).
We also met a couple of interesting people. One man, Chris, was cruising past our boat and asked to take a picture of it. Turns out he is a boat designer and was really impressed with Lukus’ design and craftsmanship. A pretty big compliment from someone
who works with boats regularly. He and his wife are American but have been living in the Bahamas and other Caribbean islands for the last 20 years. In fact, both his children were actually born on their boat! (Nancy, I think that would make her officially crazier than you; having two kids on a boat for a year might be crazy, but giving birth and raising two children on a boat seems bordering on lunacy…ha ha! But seriously, I admire the bravery and patience it must take)
After leaving Islamorada, we traveled on to Key Largo where we ended up spending 3 nights at the John Pennekamp Reef Park. I would highly recommend this park to anyone heading to the Keys. While we didn’t partake in any of it, they offer kayak and boat rentals, sightseeing in a glass bottom boat, snorkeling and scuba charters, and guided nature walks. Figured we didn’t need to pay to go on a boat…can you guess why? But we did walk around, dinghy through the channels among the mangroves and I enjoyed some great runs on the trails.
Lukus’ brother joined us there on Tuesday and stayed until Thursday; our first “overnight
John Pennekamp Reef Park
I love trees (yes, I am a tree hugger), and there were plenty of cool trees at this park!
guest” on this trip. Graciously, he brought us a number of items from home as well as some provisions and even drove us around town to do laundry and pick up a few more groceries. Kudos to that man for sticking it out on the boat with us. While we do have the room for guests normally, a lot of our spacious
(ha ha) accommodations are crammed with everything from beer (stocked up here because it is supposed to be $60 a case in Bahamas), wine, whiskey, and water (the three essential w’s), to tools and clothing. But he crammed his body into a little nest I dug out for him, and without any complaints! It was great see him and have some good conversation. We are truly thankful for the visit!
While meandering through the channels there, we also “rescued” a boat for the third time on this trip. Two young men in a fishing boat were stranded with a motor that wouldn’t start and they asked if we could take one of them in to land to get tools to fix it. Better than that, Lukus suggested he just tow them in, saving them a lot of
running around back and forth. It really amazes me how much our little dingy can pull! They were very grateful as they had been stuck there for over an hour and, though boat traffic is steady in the channel, no one had stopped to try and help.
Although I have commented on the friendliness of people on and near the water, it sometimes saddens me to witness how many people will pass by a boat in distress. I have seen dozens of boats fly by a grounded boat without even slowing down. I am sure some feel incapable of helping, some might be on a strict schedule and some simply don’t realize the boater needs help. But a boat stopped in a channel usually means somethings up. And it only takes a minute to stop and ask if everything is ok.
So, despite my promise to try and keep this shorter, looks like I have run on again. Most of you know my penchant for talking, so it shouldn’t surprise you!! Tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and no, we don’t have “plans” for Christmas. But I can guess it may involve a couple of drinks, some good food, blue-green
waters, sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, and most of all gratitude and love!!
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