Almost exactly a year since we arrived in the USA, we prepared to leave, heading for the Bahamas at last. Weather conditions had been against us for a couple of weeks, but we were tired of hanging around in Fort Lauderdale and determined to leave at the first reasonable opportunity. Monday 19th looked like the day – light easterlies, manageable seas and no north winds which can cause mayhem when they run into the opposing currents of the Gulf Stream. The rest of the week was going to get worse, with increasingly strong winds and squalls, so Monday looked like our window.
We woke in the early hours of the morning and eased out of our slip with no problems at slack tide – quite a contrast to our arrival. Made our way down the New River in the dark, which would have been a challenge without the new i-pad and Navionics program – I’m an overnight Apple convert thanks to that alone, regardless of all the other cool stuff we’ve yet to play with. The bridges all opened promptly on request, just a bit of a wait at the 55 ft 17th St Bridge, which we exited at the scheduled 5.30 opening. Port Everglades was nice and quiet at this hour – once again, a big contrast with our arrival two months ago. Out into the ocean and winds that already seemed a bit more than light, and a choppy sea. I think we farted around too much at this early stage: we were slow to get the sails up and make some decent speed, which we paid for later in the day. Anyway, once we were sailing, Common Sense was more stable and we sauntered along at a steady 5-6 knots, on a heading of about 140 degrees to compensate for the northerly push of the Gulf Stream. The ‘light’ winds were 20 knots, gusting to 25, and I confirmed the earlier discovery that I do in fact suffer from sea-sickness, contrary to previous life experiences. On deck in the wind and with a view of the horizon, all is fine. Head down below and I have exactly two minutes to do anything before losing my muesli.
It was interesting to see the change to brilliant deep blue water as we reached the Gulf Stream about eight miles out. It was an uneventful passage and Terry somehow managed to sleep through quite a bit of it. We didn’t make great time, and it was clear we would not reach the Bimini Blue Water Marina in time to find our way in before dark, so we turned on the motor for the last fifteen nautical miles, planning to anchor on the western side of the north island. Because of the strong easterly, we thought it would be reasonably sheltered, and the charts showed good depths and a clear sand bottom. We dropped anchor in about 15 ft and the reliable Manson caught and held once again. All seemed fine, but an increasing rolly swell resulted in me sleeping up on the deck. At least the stars were pretty.
Next day we motored comfortably into the harbour, the ipad and the water colours helping to compensate for a missing green marker at the entrance. Terry put Common Sense neatly into a slip beside our Canadian friends Russ and Suzie on Opportunity, then we set about checking in to Customs and Immigration. So here we are, ready to explore the Bahamas; already we've fallen in love with the glorious clear water, as everyone does. Seriously, it's the luminous blue colour of mouthwash - you can see for miles underwater!