Bahamas … At Last!

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!

Looking up at the opening 17th Street bridge

Looking up at the opening 17th Street bridge

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.

Sunrise over the Atlantic

Sunrise over the Atlantic

Catching a brief 30 minute nap in the cockpit

Catching a brief 30 minute nap in the cockpit

The beautiful open water of the ocean

The beautiful open water of the ocean

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.

Message in a bottle

Message in a bottle

Cindy wrote a note and put it in a bottle.  We'll see if anyone finds it.  We tossed it out on the Bahamas side of the gulf stream.

Cindy wrote a note and put it in a bottle. We’ll see if anyone finds it. We tossed it out on the Bahamas side of the gulf stream.

A little taste of the bashing of the waves.  It was really quite beautiful, even if a little uncomfortable.

A little taste of the bashing of the waves. It was really quite beautiful, even if a little uncomfortable.

Our 70+ nautical mile voyage for the day

Our 70+ nautical mile voyage for the day

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.

Under sail!

Under sail!

Wind power

Wind power

Notice the speed of 10 knots under sail.

Notice the speed of 10 knots under sail.

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!

Raising the "Q" flag upon entering Bahamian waters.  This flag must be flown until cleared in.

Raising the “Q” flag upon entering Bahamian waters. This flag must be flown until cleared in.

Happy crew just off the coast of Grand Bahama

Happy crew just off the coast of Grand Bahama

A welcome site: A welcome sign!

A welcome site: A welcome sign!

Entering the Old Bahama Bay basin

Entering the Old Bahama Bay basin

Cindy preparing the lines upon arrival

Cindy preparing the lines upon arrival

Placing fenders at the dock

Placing fenders at the dock

Our present location.

Our present location.

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!

Looking over the marina with resort in the background

Looking over the marina with resort in the background

Beatitude at the dock

Beatitude at the dock

Beatitude at Old Bahama Bay

Beatitude at Old Bahama Bay

Another shot of Beatitude.  Customs and Immigration and marina office in background.

Another shot of Beatitude. Customs and Immigration and marina office in background.

Entrance to the Old Bahama Bay Resort.

Entrance to the Old Bahama Bay Resort.

If at First…

Tomorrow morning, we try again. Having been thwarted by ripped-out mainsail halyards and prop-wrapped dock lines one week ago, we will leave Bahia Mar around 3 a.m. hoping to make landfall at West End, Bahamas, tomorrow afternoon.

Chillin' at the pool

Chillin’ at the pool

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This last week has held 2 or 3 days of miserable cloudy, windy, rainy weather mixed with a few days of record highs (like today). We’ve enjoyed a few afternoons sitting by the pool. But most importantly, we have repaired our sail and lazyjacks. Once again, we are excited to attempt a journey across the Straits of Florida and the Gulf Stream.

A picture taken from atop the mast looking out over the Atlantic.  I was up there again to retrieve the main halyard which ripped out of the mainsail.

A picture taken from atop the mast looking out over the Atlantic. I was up there again to retrieve the main halyard which ripped out of the mainsail.

Wind, rain, and clouds.

Wind, rain, and clouds.

Our improvised repair of our lazy jack.  The loop seen above ripped, so we made a whole through the stack pack itself and put the lazy jack line through that whole beneath the batten.

Our improvised repair of our lazy jack. The loop seen above ripped, so we made a whole through the stack pack itself and put the lazy jack line through that whole beneath the batten.

Our repaired and reattached main halyard.  A new Harken attachment plate placed where only a ring was before.  This distributes the pull on the sail much more efficiently.

Our repaired and reattached main halyard. A new Harken attachment plate placed where only a ring was before. This distributes the pull on the sail much more efficiently.

All done with repairs!

All done with repairs!

I've made bread several times this week.  Here is the latest loaf.

I’ve made bread several times this week. Here is the latest loaf.

Today, we officially named our dinghy. Our dinghy has been christened Dalí. Cindy hand-drew and cut out Dalí signatures and mustache out of black adhesive to label our small boat. Hopefully, we will not be arrested for violating a copyright of Dalí’s signature or anything. We’re very happy with how it turned out. Why the name “Dalí?” Salvador Dalí is perhaps the best known surrealist painter. We actually love Dalí’s work and have been to his museums in St. Petersburg, FL, Figures, Spain, and Paris, France. What really inspired us, though, to name the dinghy Dalí is that this whole experience of living and cruising on a sailboat is a little dreamlike, a little surreal. One of these days we will awaken from this dream, but we hope to fully enjoy it until that happens.

Cindy, cutting out the Dalí signatures.

Cindy, cutting out the Dalí signatures.

Cindy sustained rope burns when the line to lower the dinghy got away from her.

Cindy sustained rope burns when the line to lower the dinghy got away from her.

A Dali mustache graces the front of the dinghy.

A Dali mustache graces the front of the dinghy.

Putting on the finishing touches of the signature.

Putting on the finishing touches of the signature.

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Hopefully the next post will be from the Bahamas!

Cindy met a wonderful friend, Georgie, while riding the water taxi earlier this week.  We've seen her several times since.  This is one of the pleasures of cruising.

Cindy met a wonderful friend, Georgie, while riding the water taxi earlier this week. We’ve seen her several times since. This is one of the pleasures of cruising.

Week Two: Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale was not on our cruising itinerary. Rather than go directly to the Bahamas from Miami after returning from my series of shifts in Lakeland, we were compelled to come to Ft. Lauderdale for some boat repairs. That meant spending one week in Ft. Lauderdale. The second week in Ft. Lauderdale was thrust upon us by our short-lived attempt at crossing the Straits of Florida a few days ago. We were forced to return to Bahia Mar for more repairs.

Sunset from Bahia Mar

Sunset from Bahia Mar

Except for the inconvenience and expense of the repairs, we’ve really enjoyed our time in Ft. Lauderdale. It is a beautiful city. It is also very expensive. It is not a place to cruise on a budget. We’re spending considerably more money here than we had anticipated over these two weeks. This irritates me somewhat, but I’m trying to be positive, relax, and enjoy being in this lovely area. (You can ask my wife how successful I am at that.)

After returning, Monday morning from our ill-fated crossing attempt, I arranged for the repairs, took a nap, and otherwise tried to recuperate from the stressful six-hour voyage. On Tuesday, we did some cleaning and paperwork. We also hung out at the pool for a little while and enjoyed near-record warmth before the arrival of a cold front and rain. Wednesday was a cold and dreary day in which we hibernated on Beatitude. We watched a couple of movies and just relaxed aboard.

Ft. Lauderdale Beach  (across the street from our marina)

Ft. Lauderdale Beach (across the street from our marina)

Postcard Perfect

Postcard Perfect

Beatitude at Bahia mar

Beatitude at Bahia mar

Bundled up for the "cold" and a walk to Bubba Gump's

Bundled up for the “cold” and a walk to Bubba Gump’s

A Blustery Wednesday on the Beach

A Blustery Wednesday on the Beach

Beauty and the Beach

Beauty and the Beach

Today, was a fun and busy day. We caught the morning Water Taxi next door to our marina and enjoyed a ride out on the ICW and New River. The massive multi-million dollar homes and even more expensive yachts are amazing. We passed the largest American-built yacht in the last 50 years which is only 280′ long and costs around $230,000,000 dollars. We passed homes whose property taxes cost (if the yearly total is divided by the hours in the year) $64.00/hour twenty-four hours a day. Wow!

We know that we are way over our heads at Bahia Mar when our neighbors are Venus and Serena Williams.  That is their boat, Match Point, in front of Beatitude.  :)

We know that we are way over our heads at Bahia Mar when our neighbors are Venus and Serena Williams. That is their boat, Match Point, in front of Beatitude. 🙂

Beatitude on the T at B-dock with Match Point on the T at C-dock

Beatitude on the T at B-dock with Match Point on the T at C-dock

We got off the water taxi in the downtown area and ran some errands before going to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts for a matinee presentation of the musical, Phantom of the Opera. It was a wonderful performance. The powerful ending was vividly portrayed with the Phantom being told it was not his face which was deformed, but his soul, and with the Phantom experiencing true kindness for the first time resulting in his freeing Christine and Raoul. We then took the water taxi back to Beatitude with a brief stop at 15th Street Fishery for some fish and chips.

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These adorable two boys attended Phantom of the Opera.  Their mother said they were huge fans.

These adorable two boys attended Phantom of the Opera. Their mother said they were huge fans.

On the Water-Taxi

On the Water-Taxi

Cindy on the Water Taxi looking down the New River

Cindy on the Water Taxi looking down the New River

Our sail is being repaired and will hopefully be reinstalled tomorrow. Beatitude’s bottom was cleaned today. It looks like the next weather window will be Monday or Tuesday. We hope we are ready to cross at that time.