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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Gulf Stream Two Step

Crossing the Stream today was uneventful except for having to hand steer the whole way.  I sure miss the autopilot! We will have to get that fixed or replaced before anymore long sails.

We had tons of advice on where to check in when we arrived back in the USA.  First was DO NOT GO TO LAUDERDALE!  Then the consensus was Lake Worth is easy, "Just play dumb when you get there".  But Lake worth is around 70 miles north of Miami!  After that was Jacksonville, which is WAY too far north for someone going to the keys.   The other option is to make it all the way to Key West and check in at the airport, which we actually entertained for a while.  We would sail to Marathon and bus it to Key West and take the day for exploring more of the island.

So with Key West on the table we took off from Bimini with 255 on the compass and hoped for the best.  This allowed us to keep as far south as we could and not waste too much effort against the Gulf Stream.  But as we side stepped the stream the GPS kept us posted on our progress north.  It is amazing how many hours you can see the Miami-Lauderdale towers before you are close enough to find an anchorage.  We had hoped to "land" near Miami and proceed to Rodriguez Key by late evening.  But the best laid plans are spoiled by weather and destiny.  It would seem that our uneventful crossing was just about to change.

During the calm and boring hand on the tiller crossing it game plenty of time to reflect on our journey.  So what did we do?  You could sum it all up as we sailed to Thunderball Groto and had a great time while watching the 007 movie of the same name.  But it was really more than that.  We rode out minor storms, we sailed, we motor sailed, we motored, we have anchored in the best spots, we have anchored in the worst spots, we have caught lobster, conch and groupers, we have caught sharks and lion fish, we have eaten well and often wished for more in the cupboard, we have had equipment failures, oh the poor dinghy, we have watched Star Trek, Highlander, Dr Who, and way too many movies on those gray days, those gray rainy days that were way too common, we have had cuts, scrapes, bruises and infections, we have chased dragons and go to the land on never touch, we fed flocks of killer insects from our own flesh, we have watched the stars, planets and the moon,  we have not stayed long enough, we have not learned enough, we have made new friends and missed those we already knew, we have spent more than we wanted but no where as much as we could have, we have enjoyed through pain and misery that which puts life into perspective, there is no better life than to travel and explore new places.

So what did it cost us to spend 3 months in the Bahamas?  Cash out of pocket during the trip?  $1,008.00

  • Entry Fee $150
  • Dockage $150
  • Fuel  $200
  • Groceries $150
  • Medical $90
  • Eating Out $250
  • Water  $18
This is with a FULL stores list at the begging of which some are still aboard!  We expected to buy produce, water and fuel.  We expected to actually catch more fish too!

About two hours off the coast, half way between Miami and Lauderdale, we were greeted by dark skies and warnings on the radio.  "Small craft should..." started the warning followed by "life jackets" and other key words in the message.  So we reef the main and furled the genoa in most of the way as we turned almost into the wind to head south.  For the next three or more hours we beat into the wind, light rain and dark clouds.  Then the forecast caught us to us.  The clouds were darker, the rain was harder and now the wind was blowing hard.  But the blunt of the front never passed.  It must have dropped most of its fury into Biscayne Bay.  Beaten for hours and making slow progress we decided to go with plan "k" or what ever variable we were up to in this crossing plan.  We also chose to call AT&T and reconnect the phone.

We chose to head in at Miami, Government Cut.  I punched up Active Captain and looked for the most convenient place to anchor and get some "home" cooking.  You know Taco Bell, Burger King, McDonalds and all the other stuff you grew up with.  The most convenient spot was "8th street anchorage".  This is just inside the cut past the marina.  How great is that?  We there is one object in the way... a non opening bridge span.  At 35 feet and an hour after high tide we hoped for the best!  As we approached the bridge I watched anxiously for the water height sign, recalculated the mast height, Thought about the expensive LED mast light, how fast we could stop and multitudes of other relevant facts OVER AND OVER AND OVER!  As we slowly went under the bridge every muscle in my body tensed as the Fisher Kings eyes got wider and wider.  I had to force my eyes to stay open as I didn't want any optical illusions to distract me from the dangers over head.  Well at 36 feet our VHF antennae touches!  The anchorage isn't all that but it is simple.  If you are willing to tie up to the bridge you are one
to four blocks from Burger King, Pizza, Bagels, 7-11, Subway, Best Buy, and of course Publix.

CBP on Dodge Island

We decided to catch the bus from Miami Beach to Dodge island and check in here in Miami.  Just for information the bus across the bridge at Dodge Island only runs at rush hour!  We just walked across.


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