I always sleep restlessly before a big day of sailing aboard Beatitude. The night before last was no exception. I probably slept about an hour when I decided to go ahead and get up and get moving. That was 1:40 a.m. I awoke Cindy, and a half-hour later we pushed away from the dock and soon made our way through the 17th St. bascule bridge at 2:30. Deja vu! Didn’t we just do this!
This time, however, we were not forced to turn back. All lines were properly secured and put away. We motored out of Port Everglades and into the Atlantic without incident or setback. We were quite surprised, though, by the sea state upon exiting the ICW. We were greeted with similar conditions as were present on our previous attempt at crossing. Seas throughout the day were about 3-5′ with occasional 8′ waves rolling in from the Southeast. The wind was blowing stronger than we had anticipated as well, blowing 15-25 knots all the way across. These worse-than-expected conditions did not let up. We could have crossed on Monday or Tuesday, but we decided to wait until Tuesday because the forecast was better, calling for winds of 10-15 knots and seas of 1-4′. Mother Nature, however, had other plans. Oh well, we spoke to two other catamaran crews who made the crossing who had planned their crossing with similar thoughts in mind. They actually encountered rougher seas because they came from further north and were sailing into the teeth of the weather. They felt they encountered 10′ waves which jostled them around considerably.
We feel a sense of accomplishment having sailed our own vessel across the infamous gulf stream. We endured rough seas up to 8 feet coming over our forward starboard quarter to starboard beam all day. Fortunately, neither Cindy nor I were seasick. The day was challenging, yet fulfilling. Exhausting, yet thrilling. When we pulled into the harbor at West End, we knew we had accomplished a long-term goal. We sailed our boat across a small portion of the Atlantic Ocean to another country… just Cindy and I. I really don’t know how long we’ll continue to cruise, but if we had to give it up tomorrow, we would feel that we accomplished our goals and had the opportunity to both meet the challenges of sailing and enjoy a lifestyle close to nature.
Any passage would not be complete with its share of troubles. Therefore, we did encounter some equipment failures en route. Our engines worked perfectly. We motored up until shortly after 8 a.m. because we didn’t want to fight the winds and waves to raise sails in the dark, and we both needed a short 1/2 nap at dawn. At 8, we turned Beatitude in the wind, raised the mainsail, and unfurled the genoa. We killed the engines and watched our speed increase from 6-7 knots to 7-8 knots. We set a new speed record on Beatitude, reaching a speed of 10.2 knots at one time. We averaged over 8 knots for a while. This is where the trouble arose. Although, we weren’t seeing gusts over 25 knots, I was a little uncomfortable with the stress on the rigging from 20-25 knot winds and rough seas, so I thought I should reef. On attempting to place the first reef in the mainsail, I noticed only the reefing line at the forward part of the sail was working. The rear reefing line was not pulling down on the leech of the sail. This meant the rear of the sail flopped over to port. This obviously wouldn’t work, so it was time to make another decision: Should I return to full sails or lower sails completely. I decided to return to full sails. Thankfully, we didn’t see any stronger winds and arrived without further ado. Except… That our lazy jacks broke again. I’ll have to investigate and see what I can do for a temporary repair.
Upon arrival into West End, on Grand Bahama Island, we were greeted by Old Bahama Bay Resort and Marina staff who assisted with our lines. He then handed us all the paperwork for registering with the marina and also all of our customs and immigration paperwork. We spent about 15 minutes filling out paperwork before walking the 50 yards down the dock to the Customs and Immigration office. The Bahamian officials were so nice and helpful. After the 15 minutes or so it took to check into the Bahamas, we went to the Marina office where we officially signed in to the marina and resort. For one of the very few times, someone somewhere actually understood the origins of Beatitude’s name. The customs official said, “Oh, Beatitude!” He then began to quote the words of Jesus from Matthew 5:1-12. Cool!
We are here at Old Bahama Bay through at least Saturday. Cindy’s twin sister, Christy, is flying into Freeport today to be with us for a couple of days. We have rented a car for the 40 minute drive to pick her up. Their birthday was yesterday, and Christy’s visit was a birthday gift to both of them. Alas, poor Cindy spent her 29th(?) birthday being bashed around by winds and waves. Tonight, I’m making a rum cake on which we’ll place candles to be blown out. We’ll celebrate birthday’s and gulf stream crossings all in one!