Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Crossing back to US

Sunday July 4 - Thursday July 8

We stay near New Plymouth on Green Turtle, knowing the anchorage by Treasure Cay would be too crowded. The morning has more light showers but the sun comes out by late morning as we watch most of the boats pull out of the anchorage. We are busy making plans for our crossing and finishing blog updates and other computer related activities. We were torn between going into Port Saint Lucie and Fort Pierce, Fort Pierce won out, due to the lack of bridges we will need to navigate. We were using 68' for bridge clearance but Steve looked up the actual mast height from deck which is 63'4” and I sent him up the mast to measure the actual height of the instruments on top with that and the fact we are sitting a few inches deeper in the water due to the weight of everything on board we feel we could at low tide get under a 65 foot bridge clearance. That being said we have never gone under a 65' clearance bridge and are still a little leery to try, Pt. St. Lucie has 3 bridges we would need to clear and Ft. Pierce has none. So for the time being we will play it safe and not mess with bridges for now. Monday we are underway by 7:30 leaving the populated area of the Abacos heading for Great Sale Cay. We are motor sailing except during the two rain showers we go through where the winds pick up enough to just sail. We arrive at Great Sale at 3:30 and decide to try to anchor on the west side of the Island instead of going south around a shoal to get to the little cove we anchored in on the way in. At this point in the day we have no wind and only very light east winds are predicted for the evening so having only protection from east winds should be okay. We have had excellent setting and holding with our 70 lb Rocna anchor and this is the first time we have a problem. Finally on the 4th try after backing down it sets. A little while later when Steve dives to check and the anchor is completely buried just a few feet off the bow with the chain running in a circle . The evening stays calm until around 11 when the front predicted for Tuesday arrives a little early, and with winds from the northeast instead of the east. The winds pick up but only to 10 – 15 K and that brings some small wave action. The anchor holds with no problem the boat just has a little rolling action throughout the night. In the morning we check the weather and get a prediction of north north-east at 10-15 knots for Wednesday, going to east at 5 knots on Thursday. All the cruising guides warn against a gulf stream crossing with any wind with a north element, because that causes the waves to really kick up on the gulf stream. At only 10-15 knots we think it probably wouldn't be too bad, but we really don't know, and we're not in a hurry, so we decide to delay a day until the winds come east again. The anchorage is getting pretty rolly with the waves, so we move the boat into the cove for smoother water, and spend the day watching a few other boats come in to anchor. One boat is friends Jack & Jackie's Rainbow Chaser. We make radio contact and talk about plans to cross, they are thinking about doing the same thing as us staying on the “banks” Wednesday night and crossing on Thursday. Wednesday we leave our anchorage at 8 AM with Rainbow Chaser shortly behind us, heading for the western edge of the Little Bahama Bank at White Sand Ridge, this is just an area of shallow water 20 feet deep before you go over the edge and it becomes 600 + feet deep. The weather prediction is for NE winds at 5 knots clocking around to east winds again at only 5 knots. We enjoy a great the sail over there (60 miles) with 15 – 20 knot winds, doing 9+ knots, with waves of 2-4 feet, the whole time hoping and thinking the winds will die down when we get there. At 3:30 we touch base with Rainbow Chaser, they have veered a little south since they are motoring w/o sails to help stabilize their ride. We are both concerned about the conditions being a little rough on the bank. We manage to anchor in the 4-5 foot swells, still thinking that it will calm down soon. Talk to Rainbow Chaser who due to the rough conditions have decided to go across overnight, since they have 2 extra crew hands and are familiar with the inlet to Fort Pierce. I have NO desire to cross the Gulf Stream at night in these conditions and Steve has NO desire to enter an unfamiliar port in the dark so even though the conditions are “rough” (boat is bouncing up and down with the waves) we chose to stay the night on the bank. Later that evening, the wind does clock to the east, but stays at 15-20 kts. That turns the boat sideways to the waves still coming from the northeast, and adds a rolling, corkscrewing movement to the boat. We rock and roll throughout the night, not until 5 am the next morning does it finally let up. But the anchor holds, so well in fact that the next morning Steve has to dive to help get the anchor up. Thursday morning as we are pulling up anchor to leave in 1-2 foot swells the anchor does not want to come up, it is caught under a small ledge (provided great holding) so Steve ties a line around it and pulls it free, hands me the line to hold while he swims really fast back to the back of the boat to get on comes up to the bow to take the line from me and use the windlass to pull the anchor the rest of the way up while I run back to the cockpit to steer the boat. We are underway by 8 am, motor sailing because of course now the winds have died down and are behind us having clocked to the east. Later we hear 2 other boats talking on the radio that we know so we communicate with them and they are just a little ways behind us having left from Mangrove Cay at 2 in the morning and are also going to Fort Pierce. We touch base during the crossing and make plans to meet up at the marina when we get in. We arrive at the marina and are docked by 4:30. Shortly after sailing vessels Wild Thing (George & Jan Todd) and Trixie (Jim & Becky & crew Rochelle & Nancy) come in. We make our phone call to customs & immigration telling them we have just returned from a foreign country, we have 24 hours to get to an airport with a customs office to show our passports. The Mom & Step-dad of one of my oldest friend's from growing up on Long Island live in the area and we had been talking about meeting up when we arrived. They will come by at noon the following day to take us to the airport. That night we meet on-board Wild Thing for drinks before going to dinner at the Marina restaurant, swapping stories and information. They will both be leaving early Friday taking the ICW up to Melbourne, Trixie's home port & Wild Things temporary port while they fly home for a short visit. We will be staying in Fort Pierce for a couple of days.


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