Thursday, August 13, 2009

Amazon Adventure #37. The longest day: crossing the Gulf Stream to Florida.

Last night in Honeymoon Bay.
Our last night in the Bahamas is spent swishing around in the roll of the swells beside the beach. We listen to the rhythmic heart beat of the waves, the voice of the wind in the palm trees. We are so much a part of all this as we lie out on deck under our old friend the orange tarpaulin. This dominant force of nature that has caused us so much aggravation over the last few months -the stressful crossings, the stormy nights wrestling with our big tent, the shallows and tricky passages, - became our most influential teacher. We have all adapted to being part of everyone`s birthright, everyone`s true heritage right back to the beginning of time: the natural voice, body and spirit of the world.

The Journal:

Up at 4:30am in the moonlight and got ready for sea. Up anchors and motored out. The wind is still rattling in the palms so don`t know what we will find once we are out there. NOAA promises S to SE winds at 15 knots. We started sailing with the genoa only but found we were only making four knots down wind. We had set our course assuming a 6 knot average so at dawn we got up the main and started to MOVE.

Heather saw something to the north looking like a submarine conning tower but it came up over the horizon as the bridge on a coast guard cutter that passed astern of us. The waves are higher now and Amazon is making up for lost time with wind and the strong current pushing us along.

We carry on and surf down the bigger waves. We feel it when we get into the center of the Gulf Stream as the waves become confused and steeper. I consider reducing sail but Amazon is still steering ok and we are not taking much water on deck. Amazon is lighter now without a great load of water and supplies and I can feel her bounce up more easily from the waves. We meet several yachts crashing along in the opposite direction. We must be a fine sight roaring along past them.

We begin to see the dots of tall buildings on the horizon - Miami? - as we angle in toward the coast. A blimp over a city -Fort Lauderdale? - and decide to take advantage of this rapid passage to go directly to Palm Beach rather than get into the Inter-coastal Waterway too soon. We get closer and closer to shore which is lacking in obvious landmarks - just flat coastline, lined with buildings. The old question on making a landfall - where are we? We call up a motor boat and they tell us we are off Bocco Rattan about 15 miles south of Palm Beach.

The afternoon marches by as we sail in steep waves past miles of sandy beach and high rises. What a different world in a few hours! We sight Palm Beach far ahead but now we are immersed in a rain squall and wind from dead ahead ( Hey, this wasn`t in the cards -an unpredicted cold front from out in the Atlantic.) Get our sails down and we start bucking into a nasty chop. We motor slowly into them edging even closer in shore past some big fancy hotel ( The Breakers) trying to find some shelter. It`s getting dark. Hippolyta fills with water and breaks the lashing on the bow trampoline. It is too heavy to haul out of the water! Should I take my knife, stab it to release the water and then throw it overboard? I finally haul it up and re-lash the trampoline.

Anne plugs in the navigation lights but they are dim because our battery is exhausted. At last we round the corner and enter the harbour. The Coast Guard station yells “Get your lights on sir!”and we slide into the beach back beside the Old Slip Marina. At Last! Twelve hours and ninety miles later. I try phoning customs - a busy signal for half an hour - I will try again in the morning. A tired evening. Heather makes supper while I read a story to the family from a school book ( ‘Gods and Heros’. Odysseus - quite relevant.) and so to bed. An end to this phase of the trip. Bill.


Over the next couple of days we pull the boat back on it`s trailer and begin the journey (always exciting) back across the continent. Because our return to Florida went so quickly we have some extra time before we must be back in BC for my Park Ranger seasonal job. We decide to turn left at Nogales and spend some time in Mexico`s Sea of Cortez. Now we are in a completely different environment; a cooler sea and tall dry mountains. We spent three weeks sailing and then haul again and head north. When we finally arrive home we know we have squeezed the maximum adventure from our winter holiday!

PS. The girls were all ahead of their stay-at-home classes at school when they arrived home.

1 comment:

TJ said...

Hi, I've just followed you winter 2009 sailing holiday posts. I came via Wharram friends (?) & realised I had you blog bookmarked a while back reading about living off the land, art ... I can't remember. Synchronicity! Anyway lovely journey. Thanks Terry