Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Leaving the USA

We enjoyed our time in Marathon, Florida, which is 40 miles from Key West, located in the Florida Keys. We spent a month there on a mooring ball and were able to reach all amenities by dinghy, bike or bus. This was excellent. Having our bikes to go shopping and touring around really made a difference. It was quite different from being on our own on anchor. It was great to socialize with other cruisers. We met a couple who once left lived in Newfoundland. Vic had known him years before. They were moving to a marina in Miami and had a car they wanted driven up. They asked us to drive it up for them. It was wonderful to get in a car and drive for a change. The 2 ½ hour drive was very scenic, taking us from Key to Key over land rather than under bridges, “A very different View”. When we reached our destination, the cruisers drove us to the bus stop. Now that was another story, as the bus drivers could not speak English and it was a task trying to find out the right bus to take. Eventually we were able, with the help of another person who spoke broken English, get the correct bus. After being in Marathon a month it was time to move on. We were granted a three day weather window (this is when the cold winter winds change from North to Southwest these periods are very short and they can range from 24 hours and on times as long as 72 hours. ) When they come you need to jump and go to your next destination, ours being the Bahamas. We left Marathon January 18 and had a wonderful motor sail to Rodriguez, the weather was warm and the waters clear. Due to the previous cold weather there were a lot of dead fish floating, which was sad. We anchored there in the evening, preparing ourselves for an early rise. We were up at 3:00 am and prepared to cross what can be one of the roughest patches of water in the world. There can be no Northerly winds because the Gulf Stream flows South to North which would cause mountainous seas making it impossible to cross. Things looked good and we prepared “Whisper” for the crossing. It was a beautiful, clear, starry night. We took turns on the helm and on the bow watching for obstacles. It was awesome. About 1 hour out, approaching a place in the water called Molasses Reef while shining a light in the water the most amazing thing happened we sailed through a blanket of fish. The water was boiling with teaming fish jumping everywhere. Unfortunately we did not have the camera, as this was the most treacherous part as we had to weave around coral heads to get to deep water. Our navigation had to be dead on. When we were 32 miles out we began to encounter the Gulf Stream. As we were in a good position entering well south of where we were heading, we could cross on an angle. This gave us an opportunity to ride it some 20 mile at some exuberant speeds. Whisper ran with a full head sail and loved every minute of it. Whisper just loves a good sail. Nothing can compare to God’s navigation system and Marilyn was in awe of sailing by the stars, when I explained to her to choose a star and let it be her guide using the compass only as a reference, she chose the Eastern Star and kept it in line with a particular part on the boat. Unfortunately the “First Mate she got sick” and did not cross all the way by boat, but by rail. By this we mean hanging over the rail of the boat sick. For the second time she declared she was abandoning ship, all due to the fact that she did not take her pills for motion sickness. Marilyn recuperated and once again took the helm, giving me a break which I desperately needed as my two legs were locked. There is nothing more amazing than to experience a sunrise on the water. Another amazing thing was to only see sky and water for hours and eventually see a speck on the horizon. We arrived in Bimini, Bahamas at 4:00 pm January 19, with full crew and no mention of abandoning ship! If you google Bimini on Google Earth and zoom out you will be able to see where this tiny Island is situated.