Monday, January 27, 2014

End of the Bahamas chapter of the story

On Saturday, all day long, Junie had been talking about lobster. We had seen a local guy snorkeling around throwing lobsters into a floating cooler. We had heard that he was selling them for, like, 4 for $20. Junie sat in the cockpit with a twenty dollar bill, all day, waiting for this guy to pedal past on his bicycle. It looked like we had missed him. No lobster on our last night in the Bahamas.

Looking out across the banks. Roux was a little bit
wistful - or maybe that was me. This was also where
we had seen the Lobster Guy snorkeling earlier.
Just after I finished the 'last blog post from the Bahamas' that evening, I took Roux out for a walk. We walked over to the beach that overlooks the shallow banks to the north. Roux walked onto the sand, laid down and just looked out across the water. It was like he knew that the trip was wrapping up and he better take in the view. I followed his advice and we sat there for a while.

On the way back, I struck up a conversation with another local guy that worked for one of the fishing boats and mentioned that we were sorry to have missed the lobster guy. He said, "No mon. He still out dere. You not miss him yet. But catch 'im quick or dey all be gone". I had taken the twenty bucks with me. The fisherman and I scanned the water and spotted Lobster Guy just coming out of the water and loading up the basket on his bike out on the jetty. Five minutes later, I had scored, not 4 but, 5 lobsters for my twenty bucks. I went back to the boat a hero. Not very long after, we were eating broiled Bahamian Lobster tails at the table in the cockpit. Absolutely wonderful. We thought we had a picture but, apparently, the card in the camera was full. So, no pic.

Junie's back has gone from hurting a lot to hurting a helluva lot and all the time. We need to get her straightened out. Certainly, there is nothing more pressing than getting her healthy. She called the doctor and begged them to fit her into the surgery schedule ASAP and they did.  As a result, we need to get back to the US, park the boat and get back home pretty quickly.

We left Old Bahama Bay Marina, West End, Grand Bahamas at 6:30 am the next morning. We had a companion boat follow us out. 'Knockabout' has an experienced cruising couple aboard and they were also headed across the Gulf Stream to Lake Worth Inlet to the Palm Beach area. I think they were kind of watching out for us. And we appreciate that. The weather forecast indicated that we would probably see some waves on our nose early in the day. But, by midday, the winds were supposed to collapse entirely. That would mean that, by the time we actually reached the Gulf Stream, it should be calm. That is exactly how it happened.

We motored the entire way with some kind of sail up just for stability. Our friends on 'Knockabout' quickly took the lead. Their boat is designed as a motor-sailer - 85 hp engine with a 28 inch prop - so they kicked our butts in the speed department. They were just about out of sight when we got a call from them on the radio. Their GPS had failed so their primary navigation tracking was gone. They were going to hold course and asked us to keep track of them in case they started wandering too far north or south. We ID'ed them as a target on our radar so we could still see them even when they were beyond eyesight. It was our turn to watch out for them.

The waves started slacking off after about 3 hours and we were rolling along nicely. Up in the distance, we saw the distinctive white with red stripe of a U.S. Coast Guard boat circling around a small fishing boat. Their Zodiac was up close with the fishing boat. I said, "Looks like they are getting boarded. Good thing we have our papers that show we have been boarded recently." Recall that, back in October at the beginning of our trip, we were boarded by the Coast Guard, thoroughly examined and given a yellow sheet of paper to prove we passed. I was really just joking but, sure enough, they were soon chasing us down. They hailed us on the radio to let us know that the small boat would be coming along side.

We dug out our papers and handed them our folder full of stuff. Now, we are pretty organized. So, the folder we handed them has all of our ships papers, copies of ID's (including Roux - seriously - even his AKC papers), Bahamas Customs forms and, of course, our yellow sheet of paper from our last boarding. They reviewed our package, handed it back, asked us if we had noticed any suspicious boats leaving in the middle of the night, told us to have a nice day and motored off. Not sure what they may have been looking for. They took off headed west and, not surprisingly, were hailing 'Knockabout' 30 minutes later.

The Gulf Stream. Really.
The wind died entirely. The ocean went flat. It is only 54 nautical miles from West End to Lake Worth Inlet. They can be real long or real short miles. All of those scary stories about the Gulf Stream would seem hard to imagine if this was the only exposure you ever had. We have had different exposures. We considered this a blessing. We can sail other days. Getting across the Gulf Stream this easy is OK with us.

When we started to see the tall buildings of Palm Beach appear over the horizon, Junie switched the SIM card in the phone from the Bahamas Batelco service back to Verizon. We soon had voice, data and web access again. We came into Lake Worth Inlet on Sunday afternoon and, let me tell you, there is no cold weather here right now. The inlet was a zoo! Sport-fishers returning from their day charters were rolling through pushing 8 foot wakes. Little boats were zipping around trying to avoid getting swamped. Sailboats were criss-crossing in between. There were dive flags right next to the speeding boats. People were cussing on the radio, boats were anchored around the sand bars and beaches and sticking out into the channel. After the peaceful cruise over from the Bahamas it seemed like a rude arrival.

Palm Beach buildings from about 7 miles out.
The tallest things we have seen in a while. 
We made our way to Old Port Cove Marina and tied up at the fuel dock. They were just about ready to close so, rather than mess with moving to a slip and make them all stay later, we just stayed put for the night. For us, it was as good as any other slip in the marina. We moved around the corner to a different slip this morning but we will be out of here tomorrow. We thought we might get the chance to run north to Charleston before Junie had the surgery but we won't have time and the weather isn't cooperating. This place, Old Port Cove, is great but, after some deliberation, we decided to take SeaClearly back to the same marina in Stuart where we left her in November. We had a good experience there last time. Also, it is a little bit out of the way and, therefore, a lot cheaper.

Our Bahamas Courtesy Flag is down now. The
big USA flag is still flying off the stern, as always.
So, we are back in the US. Today, I took down the Bahamas Courtesy Flag that has been flying over SeaClearly since we cleared into the Bahamas back in Bimini.

One last item of interest regarding re-entry - the Small Vessel Reporting System, Local Boater Option (SVRS - LBO). Upon arrival back to the US, the first obligation is to clear Customs and Immigration. We had signed up for this SVRS - LBO before we left. It involved a trip to Norfolk to the Customs office to register the boat and crew. When we got to Palm Beach, all we had to do was call in, give our registration numbers, and we were in! No need to actually go to the Customs office in person. Very helpful.

We will be picking up a rental car and driving back north on Friday or Saturday into, what appears to be, a full blown winter storm. The weather back home, in the Outer Banks, calls for 3 - 5 inches of snow. They are warning people to be prepared to be isolated and locked in their homes for days. Great.


  1. Yes I saw that NC weather forecast that is going to be welcoming you home. Under other circumstances I might be tempted to tease you about it, but with Junie's back problems it presents a real hazard for you - sorry about that! The whole Midwest and most of the east has been doing nothing but trying to cope with this #$@!!#$! winter. Here November was 5 degrees below normal, December was 6 below, and January is now 9 below normal, working on 10, and February is predicted to be more of the same. If this is global warming, maybe we should wish for global cooling to get some relief.

    Seriously - we will keep you guys in our thoughts and prayers with the surgery coming up. Best wishes for a really good outcome.

  2. Roads are completely all will be fine. Hope to see you before we take off. junie i am so sorry you hurt so bad, and getting you fixed up will make you all better, and ready to travel again.