We Turned Left

I’m sitting here, poolside, with my laptop writing my blog.  We are FINALLY in the Bahamas.  But it wasn’t easy, at least for me.

We finally got our weather window.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough.  And, often, good enough is good enough.  We had hoped to leave Tuesday, but West Marine, FedEx and Amazon had other ideas (more later, in a separate post, once I simmer down).  So we made the best of Tuesday – which was a pretty one.  We had one last lunch with Skip and Harriet, and it was intended to be our “last supper” – i.e. a meal of that food which we’ll miss the most while we’re away.  We went to Citrus Grillhouse and ordered up gourmet burgers – you know the kind … where ground chuck, lettuce and tomato aren’t quite enough.  Everything is kicked up a notch, with heirloom tomatos, arugula, white cheddar cheese and spicy aioli.  Yum.  But the coup de grace was the truffle fries: garnished with truffle butter.  Salads for us for the rest of our lives after that!

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Skip and Harriet at the oceanfront Citrus Grillhouse in Vero Beach.  We’ll miss them (and not just for their washing machine….)

We finally left Wednesday morning, just before sunrise, instead of Tuesday.  The plan was to go south down the ICW, go out into the ocean at Ft. Pierce (so as to avoid all of the drawbridges), and then go back inside at the Lake Worth Inlet, where we would anchor for the night.  Following that, an early (like 4 a.m.) departure on Thursday for West End, Grand Bahama, to arrive there before Bahamian Customs and Immigration closed at 5.  Well, we know about plans….

As we departed, the marina and the ICW were dead, glassy calm.

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Mirrorlike surfaces on the Intracoastal Waterway as we left Vero Beach on Wednesday morning just before sunrise.

We made quick progress to Ft. Pierce, clearing the only drawbridge in our way and out into the ocean.

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On-demand bridge openings are a luxury; most open on a strict schedule, and some don’t even open during rush hour at all.

Initially, it was fairly smooth, but as the day wore on, wind, waves and current conspired to slow our progress.  We would arrive at Lake Worth after sunset, at best, leaving us to anchor in the dark in an unfamiliar place.  At this point, Rick suggest that instead of turning right (west) into Lake Worth, we turn left (east) and continue on to West End.

Let me tell you, doing an ocean crossing at night for me is near the top (if not the very top) of my “No Way In Hell” list.  Not for lack of confidence in Rick or Calypso, but for lack of confidence in me.  And abject fear.  But, since the alternative – anchoring in the dark – is also high on that list, I decided to put on my Big Girl Pants and agree to Rick’s plan.  At least I wouldn’t have too much time to build up my fear, and the benefit was that we’d be in the Bahamas by morning.

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Sunset over Palm Beach, our last look at the US for a while.

So we made the left turn, had a quick dinner (of the turkey sandwiches I’d made for the next day’s lunch), got oriented, put on our safety harnesses, and clipped in.  The wind was not cooperating, so Hector (our autopilot, so named because of my childhood “poltergeist” who got blamed for everything that happened in our household of 4 kids) was doing most of the driving.  Rick and I took turns with 90 minute watches (one slept, one stood at the helm).  There wasn’t much traffic other than the cruise ships you can see from miles away.  The seas were building, but somehow I kept it together.  Using familiar games I play with myself – like listening to music and “rewarding” myself every few minutes with a look at the clock (to see how soon I could wake Rick up) – I made it until 4 a.m.

By 4, however, I was dead tired.  Caffeine isn’t as effective for me as it is for Rick, and I slept hardly at all as we slammed through the waves, so while he was pretty alert, I was fading.  Around 5 a.m., we were close to our destination, but we couldn’t yet go in, so we dropped the mainsail.  This is where I got totally disoriented; with all the new lights on the horizon but otherwise utter darkness, and the sail blocking my view, I got totally turned around.  By the time I was putting down the anchor (so we could sleep), my hands were shaking.  But we did it, and I passed out until after 9 a.m. (really, really late for me).

I don’t know that I ever want to do that again!

After reviving ourselves, we pulled into Old Bahama Bay marina (and resort) at West End to fuel up, check in with customs and immigration, and take a slip for the day.

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Calypso floating in that otherworldly blue Bahamian water, and sporting a Bahamian courtesy flag, proving that we’d officially arrived.

By 11-ish, I rewarded myself with a Sands beer and a shower.  And then, a great Bahamian lunch – conch fritters and a fish sandwich.

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Who cares if it’s before 11 a.m. when you’ve been going for over 24 hours.  We deserved it!

We won’t be spending much time in marinas from here on out, but at least for today, we’re on a Bahamian vacation.

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4 thoughts on “We Turned Left

  1. Ann Kahle

    Eva (and Rick) Glad to hear you made it safely!! And I would just consider the 11am beer a safe alternative to drinking water:) Here in Pittsburgh we are anticipating our next winter snow-in fact I had the snow tires put on my car yesterday. Looking forward to a blow by blow account of your night passage in person next year! Cheers

    Reply
  2. svmerlin40

    Glad to hear you made it over and were able to take advantage of the weather window. I’m always amazed when I look over the side of MY boat and see that clear Bahamian water. Now you can relax and enjoy your stay.

    Reply

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